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Bridge Michigan
Michigan’s nonpartisan, nonprofit news source

Opinion | We’re all tired, but we need to pull together to fight COVID surge

I spent some time last weekend trying to understand Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s recent encouragement for schools, sports and in-person diners to take a two-week pause. I have been grappling with the messaging and wondering why now, at this juncture, are we taking risks by keeping things open while the data is clearly pointing us in the wrong direction?

Jenni Attie
Jenni Attie is a nurse practitioner in Petoskey. (Courtesy photo)

I realized, however, that perhaps our governor and her administration are providing an opportunity to shift away from government oversight to our own collective responsibility because in the foreseeable future, this will be the path forward.

This is a moment of empowerment, an opportunity, to do the right thing.

Related: No new restrictions, but Michigan needs help amid COVID surge, Whitmer says

As a healthcare provider, health promotion and behavioral change is something I encounter daily. And when my clients are motivated and choose to implement behavioral change, the outcomes are likely better. However, relying on behavioral changes to control a pandemic is complex. This public health crisis has caused me to dig deeper as I think about how to put the mission of public health at the forefront of a pandemic where politics seem deeply rooted in the solution and equity is displaced.

I encourage each and every one of us to also dig deep because our choices and behaviors can make all the difference. Pick one more thing to do at this time to help slow the spread of this unique respiratory virus that has threatened our health, livelihood and future.

Put your mask back on. Let the kids play outside. Order takeout from your favorite restaurant. Get your vaccine or help a friend or neighbor get theirs. Cancel those group celebrations – again. Be kind. Please do whatever you can do to help our community, our hospital, and our frontline workers, endure this latest surge.

At this point, we shouldn’t need our governor to tell us what to do. This time around, we know what to do. The power of each and every one of our choices has the potential to make a collective difference.

Perhaps if we each do one more thing, hospitals can continue to provide full services? Schools and sports could stay open? Vaccines could catch up so that our community can reap the benefits of herd immunity? A business could survive? A life could be saved? It’s that important.

We have all been affected by this virus, some more so than others. And we are all exhausted. But now is not the time to stop making hard decisions. This surge feels different. It is spreading faster. It is infecting children at a much higher rate and hospitals around the state are experiencing an influx of pediatric hospitalizations related to COVID diagnosis.

Fortunately, we have the power of a vaccine, but we don’t have the luxury of time. This could be our worst surge yet, but it may also be our last. It’s up to all of us now. We have been challenged and entrusted to make choices based on science and guided by public health experts.

We can and should embrace this opportunity, together.

Bridge welcomes guest columns from a diverse range of people on issues relating to Michigan and its future. The views and assertions of these writers do not necessarily reflect those of Bridge or The Center for Michigan. Bridge does not endorse any individual guest commentary submission. If you are interested in submitting a guest commentary, please contact Ron French. Click here for details and submission guidelines.

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