The current crisis in which we find ourselves has been compared to a war.
But instead of an opposing army, our enemy is a novel virus that is 1/900th the width of a human hair and that can be transmitted in ways that are both stealthily insidious and ruthlessly efficient.
As with any battle, it is the soldiers on the front lines who are doing the hard fighting and bearing the heavy burden of loss.
In this case, the army responding to take on COVID-19 consists of our first and second-level responders — the police officers, firefighters, EMTs, nurses, doctors, and other health care and emergency workers — as well as the truckers, grocery store and pharmacy clerks, utility company employees, municipal employees, and the countless others whose jobs have been deemed “essential” in order that their fellow Americans can maintain some semblance of normalcy.
Although these heroes perform many disparate tasks, the one thing that they have in common is that they literally are putting their lives, as well as the safety of their loved ones, on the line by exposing themselves to possible infection when they deal with any member of the public.
For our first and second-level responders, the danger has been particularly acute. The tragic stories making the headlines about nurses and doctors who have died because of exposure to COVID-19 have cast into stark reality the very real, life-and-death battle that these heroic Americans are facing every minute of every day that they are on the job.
Thanks to a level of unpreparedness by our nation that is nothing less than shocking — from the lack of available test kits that could have identified those first cases that ensnared so many unsuspecting victims, to the scarcity of necessary protective and life-saving equipment (masks, gowns, and ventilators) — our first and second responders have been left defenseless in their battle against this onslaught.
As one emergency room nurse in New York aptly put it, “We are being asked to fight a war without any ammunition.”
We know we join with our readers in thanking all of our heroes for their selfless service to our nation and upon whose continued devotion to duty our very survival is dependent.
This will be a long haul