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Where Are the Soldiers?

Our ongoing battle with COVID-19 is unlike prior conflicts that most Americans can relate to. It’s not a territorial issue or a clash of political ideology. It has nothing to do with tribal or ethnic or economic differences, nor is it related to religious beliefs. It’s not even a fight against human opponents. But it is a serious battle with deadly consequences, and wartime analogies seem appropriate.

Our opponent has targeted all of humanity, not just a subgroup. It is stealthy, not easily noticed until it has struck. Those infected have no inherent defenses and must suffer through the symptoms and complications. Sometimes they don’t survive. The virus shows no compassion or mercy.

We can carry this wartime analogy a bit further. Our medical providers are doing everything they can to aid and comfort the casualties. But without effective treatments, the medical teams are frustratingly limited in the assistance they can offer. Meanwhile, researchers are frantically searching for treatments and preventatives for a disease that we had never encountered until very recently. We can hope that they will ultimately be successful, but the near term fight continues without miracle drugs or vaccines.

Our federal, state and county decision-makers are trying to weigh possible strategies and countermeasures that could be used to fight this insidious disease. Arguments rage and the options change as we learn more about the virus and as the infection spreads. The resulting guidance to the public is based on the few practical steps that we do know will slow the transmission of infection: stay put, stay apart and sanitize anything suspect.

But where are the front line troops, the people actually carrying the fight in the field? Who is facing the enemy and taking daily action? That happens to be US! We, the people, are the soldiers in this war. What we do and how long we do it will determine how the battle plays out.

If we all abide by stay-at-home and workplace guidance and are diligent in keeping things sanitized, we can beat this virus. But if we lose heart, back down, ignore proclamations and revert to old ways before the infection chain is truly broken, we will allow it to continue on. It will have been we the people that failed in the war.

It would be foolhardy to assume that a magical cure will show up in the next few days to solve this problem for us. How WE behave today and tomorrow and in the weeks to come will determine the outcome. There is nobody else to blame.

We are the soldiers.

By Dale Knutsen

Lake Almanor

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