I work at a coffee shop in the medical center in which the majority of my customers are first responders in nearby hospitals.
Those who are awake enough before their morning dose of coffee often speak about the day as something foreboding, like the drizzle before the downpour: “It is steady, but we are just bracing for what’s next.”
Many of the first responders complain that there is only one hospital with tests for COVID-19 and getting results takes far too long. There may be steps we can take now to allow the majority of our community to practice social distancing, but how long will this last? Social distancing was once something both parties agreed on, but like many other rational and safe ideas, it has begun polarizing political parties. COVID-19 is here in San Antonio, and it is not only up to the community but also our local governments to ensure that when the worst does come, it ends up not being so bad.
On March 30, SA Express reported 168 COVID-19 cases and six deaths in Bexar County. When compared to the harrowing statistics from other cities in the U.S. — like New York City’s 914 deaths — these numbers seem insignificant. This is where the real dangers lie: If the community views these statistics as a valid reason to ignore mandates from health advisors and try to return to normalcy, then we will see these numbers skyrocket. Never before has it been more important to realize that life is not normal right now, and trying to act like it is will cost someone’s life. The consequences of ignoring quarantine mandates are dire and will be deadly.
Since arriving in the U.S, COVID-19 has had the greatest effect on metropolitan areas while rural areas have been left largely unaffected. Statistics show that metropolitan areas tend to be more left-leaning while rural areas are more right-leaning. It came as no surprise, then, to see the usual bickering between the left and right that followed. How serious is social distancing? How many lives is the economy worth? What was once something that both parties finally agreed on is now a political stance. COVID-19 does not care what policies you vouch for or who you vote for. Scientific fact has no part to play in politics, and our duty now is to our community by saving as many lives as we can.
There are steps being taken. Our local governments are doing their best to reallocate resources around San Antonio to prepare for what is to come. Freeman Coliseum is being turned into a testing site, and hospitals are canceling elective and nonessential surgeries. It is now the responsibility of our community to strap in and prepare for abnormality for a long while. This does not mean that you need a year’s worth of toilet paper or water bottles. It means that, if we are patient, we could save lives. If you practice social distancing, you could save a life. If we do our best, we will save someone’s life.