Letter: Please respect our frontline workers
Out of concern for our frontline physicians and nurses, whom we praise; and out of respect for our frontline public health professionals, whom many of us don’t understand, please wear masks in crowded indoor spaces, keep some distance, and get vaccinated.
Many in society are confusing medicine with public health. In medicine, the physician focuses on the health of the individual in front of them, and allows that individual to do whatever they choose with their own health. Applied to COVID, physicians are responsible to care for the many individuals landing in their hospitals with COVID-caused respiratory distress. In this conception, the physician is neither responsible for nor concerned with where or how the person contracted COVID.
But the ethics of public health is different. Public health is unwilling to resign itself to treating the sick and dying without asking “How can this be prevented?” Public health exists to identify the reasons people are being infected, and then to prevent that at the population level.
To apply this to COVID, public health is responsible to prevent members of the population from contracting COVID. This is done by using the scientific method to generate evidence-based guidelines, and then implementing them in populations and in society. The results of 17 months of public health research affirm unequivocally that social distancing, mask-wearing and vaccine administration are the effective behavioral and pharmacological methods to prevent COVID. Thus, public health, serving under elected government officials, is obligated to implement these measures to protect the public and keep people out of the hospital.
Friends, the COVID pandemic has worn us all down. But it is entirely preventable. Out of concern for our frontline physicians and nurses, whom we praise; and out of respect for our frontline public health professionals, whom many of us don’t understand, please wear masks in crowded indoor spaces, keep some distance, and get vaccinated. The evidence supports this as the only way back to normal.
Mark A. Strand lives in Fargo.
This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.