We’ve heard it time and time again: We need to mask, maintain social distance, wash our hands and avoid large gatherings. But as evidenced by our ever-growing case numbers, COVID-19 fatigue has set in across our community.
Nowhere in Ohio is COVID-19 having an impact on a larger percentage of the population than here in West Central Ohio. As we became fatigued by the sacrifices COVID-19 has forced us to make, we sought comfort in the very thing that makes this a special place to live — community. We yearned to be with loved ones. We looked forward to celebrations. We wanted our children to feel a sense of normalcy again. We struggled with feelings of loss of control.
And once those feelings of returning to community took hold, a reality has set in that has sickened many and pushed us to a critical stage in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our hospitals are full and on the brink of being overwhelmed. Our schools are chaotic. Our families are struggling to recover from disease. Our workplaces are suffering from loss of productivity. This is reality right now in West Central Ohio, and we fear it will continue to be a significant issue as we plan for the holidays.
It’s time to rethink Thanksgiving. We need to act now and take brave, bold steps to get this pandemic back under control. Consider a smaller gathering with your immediate household. Consider using technology to safely connect with friends and loved ones. As with so many things in 2020, let’s be successful in doing things differently.
And let’s still celebrate Thanksgiving. Be thankful for family. Check in with friends. Be thankful for the ways in which your life is blessed. Write thank you notes. Leave a gift on someone’s front door. Leave a meal for your neighbors on their front stoop. Practice gratitude, kindness and grace as you are interacting with others. Make some special memories with your immediate family that will last a lifetime.
These measures that we are requesting are a different form of community, acts of care and concern for everyone special in your life. The greatest gift we could give to each other this season is to slow the spread of COVID-19 and its impact across West Central Ohio. There is promise for large celebrations renewed in our future. We have a chance to realize that renewal while showing the best versions of ourselves, together, as a community.
Ronda Lehman is president of Mercy Health-Lima. Dr. Matt Owens is chief clinical officer for Mercy Health-Lima.