COVID-19 through the eyes of a Mount Shasta doctor: 'Citizen' is a verb

Submitted by Dr. Sean Malee
COVID-19 illustration

Submitted by Dr. Sean Malee

I prefer to think of the concept of being a citizen as defined by the actions of an individual, not just a legal designation. Living in a small community I see the effects individuals can make to better our lives. Citizens sacrificing time, effort, money, and stress. Without the selfless efforts of our citizens we would not have a community, only a small town to live in. During these hard times I like to remind myself that our entire community is suffering through this pandemic, along with the rest of the world. There are those that question the seriousness of this viral disease, they have never looked in the eyes of a person struggling for each breath.

There are those that question the benefits of masks, and other proven methods to prevent transmission of this virus. They have never knowingly walked into a room full of virons to care for a sick patient.

I continue to be impressed and humbled by the willingness of those I work with at our local hospital to choose to take on the risk and discomfort of caring for these seriously ill patients. EMS workers are entering homes and personal spaces not knowing if the virus is present. We face rising case count, hospitalizations, mortality in our community, and around the globe. More courage and sacrifice will be needed to see us through the other side.

Not everyone needs to knowingly put themselves in harm’s way to get through this, but we all need to participate as a community, as citizens. Face coverings and social distancing are minor inconveniences compared to the physical and economical consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. These actions work to save lives, and support those of us on the frontlines, here for you if you are sick or injured. Anyone who says otherwise is misinformed. There are no medical contraindications to wearing a simple mask. It is my job to know this. Wearing face coverings in public places shows support and solidarity for those citizens willing to risk their lives for you. Masks should be worn with pride. If each and every one of us takes action to prevent transmission of the virus as a service to community and country, we can see this through.

We can get our kids back in school, restaurants and businesses can open, we can, once again, share time with loved ones. There is hope for a safe and effective vaccine in the future, but at this time prevention of transmissions through facial coverings and physical distancing is our only tool to fight with. Every citizen and business must be on board. We can win this, but only together.

Sean Malee is a Northern California native and internal medicine doctor in Mount Shasta. He treats COVID every day at work right now.