These days, the coronavirus crisis has become the fight of our lives. The current occupant of the Oval Office has even taken barely concealed delight in styling himself a “wartime President.”
But the real combatants against the so-called “invisible enemy” are the doctors, nurses, and associated medical personnel thrown into a fight for which their country left them precious few weapons.
One battleground in their desperate war is Englewood Hospital, a few blocks from where I live in Bergen County, NJ. When I walked by late this afternoon and took this photo of this medical center’s exterior, I could not imagine the struggle being waged inside.
Staffers have to be as exhausted by what they have already seen as they are fearful at what is to come. Don’t imagine that before this is all over, more than a few will experience the equivalent of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Just keep these statistics in mind: As I write this, Bergen County holds the dubious distinction of having the most coronavirus cases (2,909 positive test results as I write this) in densely populated New Jersey. And Englewood places second only to adjacent Teaneck among the number of cases in the county, according to results released two days ago.
Several years from now, after all this over, when we can measure our sacrifices and losses, I suggest that plaques be erected at Englewood and other hospitals around the country to honor those in the thick of the fight—and specifically name those who put themselves at risk so the rest of us might live.
Will doctors become our new heroes? I sure hope so, but based on not-so-distant history, I have my doubts. Nearly 20 years ago, in the wake of 9/11, America looked to the public safety personnel—the firefighters and the police—who braved the fire and preserved order on the streets. And then, Americans took too seriously the advice to “go shopping” and turned back to the business buccaneers who have periodically claimed their allegiance.
How pathetic that so many lionized not those who saved lives, but those who, when their own crisis came in the Great Recession, couldn’t even be counted on to save jobs?