A retired RN's take on COVID-19

Sixty thousand cases of polio were reported in 1952, the year I turned 2 years old. I was not one of the children crippled by that virus, not one of the more than 3,000 children who died in that year alone — just in the U.S.

In 1979, when I finished nursing school, we were not routinely wearing gloves to do our work, not even handling bedpans. A few short years later, as I emerged as a novice in my career, the AIDS epidemic had us concerned about transmission, and we began to wear masks, gloves and gowns. In those days, it could have been fatal if I’d contracted HIV from an accidental needle stick.

Tuberculosis began to reappear in the 1990s, with an exploding prison population and many immigrants to the U.S. In 2018, the number of reported new cases of TB in our country dropped to 9,029, down from 9,094 new cases in 2017. But reported cases of syphilis rose sharply, including congenital syphilis that can cause severe neurological deficits in newborns.

The swine flu epidemic of 2009 (H1N1) infected 61 million people in the U.S and caused 12,000 deaths. Globally, most deaths occurred in people younger than 65.

So what is the mortality rate for COVID-19? This is uncertain because we do not have an accurate count of mild or unreported cases.

Much remains to be seen, especially how long it will take for our economy to rebound. Perhaps by June, we will begin to gain some “20-20 hindsight.”

And maybe — I’m hoping and praying as I continue to work at my part-time ER job, folks will begin to think more seriously about guarding their immune systems. Maybe more people will take responsibility for their health in ways only they can affect — instead of panicking because the government didn’t provide a vaccine. In addition to good hand washing, maybe more people will stop smoking, eat a healthy diet, exercise, get adequate sleep and take extra vitamin C.

Let’s protect our immune systems, trusting the words of Psalm 139: We were “fearfully and wonderfully made”!

JO BILLINGS, RN

Appomattox

Say hello to a ‘real soldier’

Benjamin Cowgill, the author of the March 18 letter to the editor “Real leaders, not ‘toy soldiers,’” can feel free to come to my house any time and meet a real Marine. I was a lieutenant colonel, U.S. Marine Corps infantry officer for 21 years and know a “little” about being in the military.

It was an honor to serve this country, and fortunately for him, the 3 percent of Americans who serve in the military do it even for people like you who ridicule us with stupid names.

Shameful.

JOHN T. SARGENT

Lynchburg

LCS’ superb leadership

Superintendent Crystal Edwards, I have been proud to be a parent of Lynchburg City Schools students for nine years now. Today my cup overflows. I just watched your YouTube announcement.

I had heard LCS supplying meals to students, but now I understand that you are supplying meals to all children. I am blown away by not only the consideration this shows for the LCS mission to care for every child, by name and need, but also the speed and organization it takes to achieve this mission under the current circumstances.

This shows exceptional leadership. We are so lucky to have you at the helm as we steer through unfamiliar waters with many challenges ahead. Thank you to your entire team for working so hard in the midst of adversity to care for the children. This is walking the walk. This is following The Golden Rule. Our children are learning, even while out of school, from the example you set.

To find out more about delivery of meals and enrichment materials Monday through Friday, go to www.lcsedu.net.

RACHEL GAGEN

Lynchburg

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