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This week I have been haunted by this phrase, HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME from T.S. Eliot’s epic poem, The Wasteland. This phrase conveys a sense of urgency for needed changes in an uncertain and confusing world in turmoil. Using this phrase as a lens, we can review our experiences during the pandemic right now.

HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME ... for surviving

Recently, in the United States one person was reported dying every 35 seconds. Nearly 2,500 have died each day. More than 50,000 died in the month of December. Over a two-week period, Bennington has had 84 new cases.

HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME ... for routines and innovative connections

Of those who have died from covid, a majority have been age 50 or older. The effects of being isolated are similar to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. A survey indicated the number of Americans over 50 who felt lonely doubled during the pandemic. In addition, they reported fewer social interactions with others. Lack of contact relates to increased illnesses, including dementia, heart condition, stroke, anxiety, suicide, and substance abuse.

Those who had a routine, exercised, got outside, engaged with virtual social groups and cognitive activities (e.g., learning a new language, using coloring books, listening to classical music) were less likely to be lonely.

HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME ... for supporting health care workers

As of November, 200,000 health care workers in the United States have contracted the virus; 790 have died. Over half of these cases and deaths have been people of color.

Staff shortages have caused health workers to do extra shifts. Instead of two covid patients, nurses in Texas are caring for 6-8. Due to the widespread of the virus, back up staff from other states are less available.

Telemedicine has enabled people to get medical advice and support in a safer environment. In hospitals, doctors have been linked to patients remotely to maintain the pace of consultations.

HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME ... for slowing the spread

One in 8 hospitals are filling up in our country. To manage crowding, patients are stuffed in hospital rooms, given space in gift shops, housed in hallways or taken to alternate settings (hotels, convention centers, or tents) set up as hospitals.

Because of lack of space in ICUs or lack of equipment, covid patients are being advised to stay home, denied treatment, or are being transported to distant facilities. Surgery patients who ordinarily would be transferred to a larger hospital setting for their procedure are being handled at rural sites.

HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME ... for fairness

Purging voter lists, requiring specific forms of identification, denying or limiting access to absentee ballots, artificial deadlines for return of ballots, reducing number of polling locations or locating polling places in unwelcome places, lengthy lines, and intimidation at the polls are many of the strategies employed to suppress voting. Fair Fight, an organization led by Stacey Abrams, has filed a lawsuit to support voter rights and actively worked to register voters in recent elections in Georgia. A recent documentary, All In: the Fight for Democracy, features Abrams’ efforts to support democratic principles.

HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME ... for healing

Sandra Lindsay got the first dose of vaccine in the United States on December 14. As an African American, she hoped to inspire others to follow her lead and get vaccinated. On January 3, she got the second dose.

Vermont ranks high in vaccine distribution with nearly 60 percent of its received vaccines being administered.

Broadening the kind of people who can give the vaccine would enable us to be much more effective in having vaccines in arms rather than on shelves. Several states have amended regulations so they can enlist diverse groups to administer shots. Student nurses, doctors, dentists, veterinarians, podiatrists, paramedics, pharmacists, and midwives are among those being offered training and tuition discounts. England is training volunteer first-aiders.

HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME ... for change and thoughtful action

Despite the 60 lost lawsuits, social media contortions, another imperfect phone call, and challenges in the House and Senate, Biden will become our president. I am anticipating increased, expert coordination will improve our country’s response to quell the virus. It is long overdue.


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