COVID-19 has been a part of our lives for more than 18 months now. By this point, virtually everyone knows someone — a family member, friend co-worker, neighbor — who has died from contracting the virus. Beyond that, the virus has altered some of the daily rhythms of life. We are not back to “normal,” and we don’t know when that day will come.
We hear the news reports of the daily number of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Older Americans will remember watching the news during the Vietnam War and hearing the daily numbers of casualties and deaths. COVID-19 has been like that.
Despite our personal connection to the virus or the daily reports, the pandemic remains something of an abstract. For most of us, it is mainly an intrusion, not something we deal with directly each day.
Yet for one group of people, COVID-19 is something they face “up close and personal” on a daily basis.
Healthcare workers continue to face enormous stresses — physical, psychological and emotional — as the virus continues to strain hospital resources. Mississippi’s poor response to COVID vaccinations has extended those stresses longer than necessary.
In times of conventional warfare, there is a condition known as “combat fatigue,” a result of being exposed too intimately and for too long to the carnage of battle.
We have no doubt that many of our health care workers are suffering from a similar form of combat fatigue. Unlike soldiers, their tour of duty is not fixed on a calendar. There are no “R and R” leaves. They must soldier on.
That is why we are pleased to learn of the Greater Starkville Development Partnership’s plans to recruit area businesses to provide meals to staff members at Oktibbeha County Hospital for those who may not have time to eat throughout the day. GSDP Director of Membership Development Hunter Harrington said she knows OCH staff has been “working around the clock” to take care of patients infected with the virus. By providing meals to workers, she hopes they will know they are loved and supported. Businesses and organizations can sign up to provide a meal for workers through takethemameal.com. People can sign up to bring lunch on Tuesday for 150 workers or dinner on Thursdays for 50 workers. Both meals ensure all OCH nursing staff members are fed at least once per week.
We encourage folks to participate in this effort. We also hope it will serve as an inspiration to other businesses/civic groups and private citizens to explore ways to support our front-line COVID workers.
Unless you are one of those who refuse to be vaccinated, there’s not a lot we can do to change their circumstances. But sometimes even a small gesture can mean a lot.
Anything we can do to show them that we appreciate the heroic role they are playing in the battle against this awful pandemic is likely a boost to their spirits and salve for their psyches.
Thank them. Pay for their meal if you see them in a restaurant. Buy their coffee. Express your gratitude, both in word and deed.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.