September 26, 2022
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Opinion: Top 10 pandemic hopes for 2022

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By Ritch Eich

Pandemic fatigue is a real thing. I’m tired of the pandemic, you’re tired of the pandemic, people the world over are tired of the pandemic.

But COVID-19 continues to harass us, and no one knows when the pandemic will end. In the meantime, let’s do what we can to make life better, nicer, smoother, and less insane. Here’s how our nation’s leaders and every citizen can help:

Ritch Eich

1. We need better clarity from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and no more messaging failures. Between the confusing messages about the new recommendations that COVID-19 patients isolate for five days instead of 10, to the confusing messages about testing guidance, to the confusing messages about whether teachers needed to be vaccinated to open schools … you get my message. Greater coordination and cooperation among the White House, the CDC, the Food and Drug Administration, major chain store pharmacies and others in the private sector will result in improved messaging.

2. Mind your manners in person and on social media. Bad behavior has tumbled to new lows on airplanes, in restaurants, and other public places. Remember that everyone is under stress right now. Be kind to restaurant servers, store clerks, first responders, neighbors, elected officials, reporters, teachers, principals, school board members and others. If you can’t be civil, be quiet. There’s no profit in confrontation.

3. Quit doing whatever you are doing or saying that leads to more political polarization. It’s not helping. Resist the urge to argue with people on social media over masks and vaccines. No one changes their mind about their personal political beliefs because some random person on Facebook ranted about Republicans or Democrats. The virus doesn’t care what political party you belong to and is infecting everyone.

4. Get vaccinated and boosted. This is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against serious illness from the virus, hospitalization or death. At this point, there’s plenty of scientific data to prove this. For example, the Texas Department of State Health Services found in a Nov. 8, 2021 report that unvaccinated people were “20 times more likely to experience COVID-19-associated death than fully vaccinated people.”

5. Don’t believe that everything is a conspiracy! From unproven claims that COVID-19 vaccines contain government tracking microchips to the depraved lie that actress Betty White, 99, died days after receiving a vaccine, conspiracy theorists and malcontents who don’t trust anything are dragging the United States down a rabbit hole of stupidity. Don’t go there.

6. COVID-19 is likely here to stay. Our pharmaceutical, medical and political leaders should focus more on funding, developing and distributing treatments and therapeutics, as well as researching how to help those with long-haul COVID-19 symptoms.

7. Our government leaders at every level should work to expand access to free and low-cost testing. More testing will help control the spread of the virus.

8. It’s time to end mask pollution. Throw your masks in the trash and stop littering them in the community. Follow the science and use the N95 or KN95 mask as changing circumstances dictate.

9. Stop abusing medical and healthcare providers; abuse of our nurses and doctors is driving them from their professions. When you ask a doctor, nurse or therapist to help you, especially if you are not vaccinated and seek help at the doctor’s office or emergency room for COVID-19 symptoms, accept their care and show respect for these amazingly talented, hard-working, often underappreciated professionals who know much more about medicine and healthcare than we do.

10. Support small and independent businesses, especially those in your community. Wear a mask and shop locally. If everyone continues to shop and bank so much online and buy only from big-box stores, large chain businesses, or Amazon, it won’t be long before the corner deli, grocery store, bank, cleaners, café, and boutique will all be gone. This will leave communities without vital businesses we love, lead to the elimination of millions of jobs.

• Ritch Eich is former chief of public affairs for Blue Shield of California, a retired Naval Reserve captain, and past chair of the board of trustees at Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks. He has written five books on leadership.