Politics have no place in a real nationwide crisis. Nor does hiding the truth or making decisions that make the truth of the matter less obvious. In all honesty, in the best of all worlds, it would be difficult to be perfect in fighting a disease that has unknowns: how it affects individuals differently, how best to treat symptoms and most importantly how it spreads.
While we may not have the final answer on any of these important issues, we are finally beginning to take action as a nation. Testing is more accessible and widespread. This is good as it will enable us to separate those with the disease from those without—a very important step in containment. Social distancing is also good as are requirements in some hot spots to shelter in place and close schools.
I am a personal fan of going “above and beyond” to protect our frailest and our economy. The scientists have told us that we can dramatically influence the pattern and severity of the disease by staying away from others. For those of us who are not really “essential workers on the front lines of health care and other critical services” we need to heed this advice and stay home and away from others. No need to go to the beach or your favorite bar before curfew starts. If we actually did this now for a couple of weeks, we might make a difference! Harsh but not draconian in my mind; instead, you might call it lifesaving.
With regard to senior housing, I want folks to know that we are going above and beyond to try to keep our communities disease free. Moreover, for many older adults, living alone without a good support system, we are a great option, especially now. No need to go to the pharmacy or grocery store; someone to clean and disinfect; health and medical care will come to you rather than you having to go out. Many older adults and their families understand this. Contrary to some news articles, families do trust us and move-ins to communities have actually increased!
We will not be perfect. Nor will the politicians and national health policy makers. However, working hard, together, clarifying the daily realities and communicating our efforts can make a difference for us as individuals, families, communities and America. Act now!