Working as a physician caring for primarily immunosuppressed patients, a mother of two children in the public school system in Napa, and a small business owner, I feel that I have had a unique perspective during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our family has gone through the same struggles of transitioning our children through online schooling, trying to explain why they cannot see their friends, and why their sports seasons came to a grinding halt.
We also have gone through in-person schedules to the transitions of having an almost complete schedule of telemedicine to figuring out how to incorporate patients back into the schedule safely.
As a business, we had to learn to apply for loans, cut our own salaries in order to keep our employees while the patient loads were down, and deal with the frustrations of our employees having their hours decreased slightly during this time.
All of this time, we have been hoping for things to improve just like everyone else, but seeing things continue to worsen and escalate.
I think at this point, some of the issues may be a simple lack of understanding and a lot of frustration. If our situation is going to change and small businesses are to have a chance, we have to get our caseload of COVID-19 under control.
I want our children to have a chance to have a somewhat normal life in the future, and if we continue to progress like this, there is no telling when that will be.
I think that some simple things can be done to decrease the number of cases in Napa quickly beginning with education on mask wearing. We wear masks to protect each other and ourselves. Some people may be carrying the virus and not know it.
We have seen some people get very angry about having to wear a mask and feeling singled out as though they are being made to feel as though they have COVID-19 because we are asking them to wear a mask. The simple fact is, any of us may be carrying the virus and be asymptomatic.
We are protecting ourselves and the people around us. I wear my mask to protect everyone around me; people around me wear their mask to protect those around them. We do not need to get angry at people right away who walk in a store without a mask. They may have forgotten it. You can simply carry an extra one in your pocket and hand it to them to put on. It does not have to be an aggressive situation. It needs to be educational for all of us.
Why do we stand six feet apart? A cough carries the virus six feet. If someone is close enough to a person with COVID-19, they could get infected. A sneeze can carry the virus 24-26 feet. So when someone tells us that they don’t need a mask because it is just allergies, but they could be an asymptomatic carrier, imagine the impact of this situation. This is why we wear masks.
Education on mask wearing in businesses small and large can simply be done starting with the management. The mask needs to cover both the mouth and nose. It needs to be worn at all times. The staff needs to also observe the six-foot rule even when they are stocking aisles and working among patrons of the store. They are not immune to the rules because they work in the store. If they see customers wearing masks incorrectly, they can also intervene in a nice, educational way.
Group gatherings are also hurting our case load here in Napa. When you have a group of people from different homes, working in different facilities, exposed to different people, the chances of having an asymptomatic carrier increase. This increases the risk of exposing someone who is a high risk person that could get critically ill from the virus.
We have to remember that not just people over 65 years of age are high risk, but also people who are on chronic immunosuppression, diabetics, heart disease patients, asthma patients (including youth) are all at risk.
My challenge to Napa now is to be stronger than this virus. Doing the right thing now will save the small businesses you love and will give our youth something to look forward to.
If we don’t come together for this now, there is no telling when this thing will end.
We can do this. Be strong. We are greater than this. Let’s be the first in California to beat this.
Dr. Brittany L. Goss
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