After seeing the COVID-19 health data in our state rapidly move in the wrong direction, causing the ever-changing, rainbow-colored danger dial to add an additional color, I was forced to re-examine our Thanksgiving plans.
After hearing from friends who I knew were being incredibly careful yet now were testing positive and quarantining, and after watching news reports, reading and hearing first-hand accounts of front-line health care workers, including my own daughter, I knew it was time to take more personal responsibility, to be part of the solution to this pandemic that has upended all of our lives.
After over 30 years of hosting Thanksgiving dinner, this year I decided to cancel. I did not cancel out of an unreasonable fear or economic burden, but out of respect. As a retired medical technologist, and parent of a current emergency-room nurse, I have too much respect for all the current front-line health care workers.
Doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, and countless other health care support personnel are physically and emotionally exhausted yet continue to care for patients. They continue this care while too frequently being given inadequate personal protective equipment, compensation and support.
I have great respect for all the educators who have been valiantly teaching in person, remotely or hybrid, with too little pay, inadequate public concern for their safety, and little public understanding of their untenable workload.
I have too much respect and empathy for the countless teachers, who are also parents of school-aged children, in their struggle to balance teaching while simultaneously ensuring their own kids are succeeding in their learning.
I have too much respect for firefighters, paramedics, law enforcement and corrections officers who answer the calls for help, 24/7. COVID-19 has killed more law-enforcement officers than anything else in 2020.
I have too much respect for the workers who keep our food supply chain functioning and deliveries on time. According to the Food & Environment Report Network, over 200 meatpacking workers have died in the U.S. from COVID-19, including seven at just one meatpacking plant here in Colorado.
I have too much respect for all the small-business owners forced to adapt to ever-changing mandates and guidelines while fully comprehending their businesses cannot completely recover or maybe even survive until this pandemic is controlled.
The exhaustion, health and safety of essential workers, small-business owners and the elderly are being ignored by a public that is all too willing to put its own wants before the needs of fellow citizens.
I have too much respect for the elderly, who have already endured months of isolation and been forced to forgo visiting with children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The mortality rate from COVID-19 for our older citizens has been already proven to be unbearably high.
All of us need to examine the consequences of our actions. We already know what the right thing to is. We have known all along.
It is time for all of us to be part of the solution instead of contributing to the problem. It is time we give those who give their all, day in and day out, in service to us the respect they deserve.
We can do that by giving up a large Thanksgiving dinner for one year. It is the least we can do.
Patricia Crowley of Lone Tree is a retired medical technologist and public health advocate.
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