Residents of Hastings and surrounding communities, we were warned.

Scientists and health care professionals had predicted for months what this fall and winter would look like if we failed to take COVID-19 seriously.

That time is now.

Recent cases and hospitalizations have dramatically increased. Our local ICU is full, and other healthcare facilities across the state are nearing capacity.

I felt compelled to write another letter because I recently learned that our local health department has received verbal abuse from people in our area (Voice of The People, Nov. 9).

Nanette Shackelford, president of the South Heartland District Health Department Board of Health, stated in her letter that SHDHD “is experiencing an increased number of angry or threatening emails, calls, letters, and social media posts.”

This is absolutely shameful.

Masks work. Social-distancing works. Hand-washing works.

These are not difficult things to comply with. Yet, we continue to have individuals who refuse to listen to the science.

We should be grateful for the work that our local public health officials continue to do, not spiteful.

Public health is an integral part of any medical community, and right now our medical community is strained.

From contact tracers to bedside nursing staff at Mary Lanning Healthcare, there are numerous people who are working tirelessly to try and keep our community healthy and safe.

In the early months of the pandemic, these individuals were celebrated as heroes. Now, they’re being asked to do even more while a number of people seem to be disregarding them completely.

I should clarify that I’m not an official spokesperson for our medical community or local healthcare organization, but I do have a voice and feel obligated to speak out on the importance of following basic public health measures to protect our healthcare workers and local health system capacity.

I’ve been an RN in Hastings for the past 7 years and have worked with some of the most selfless and dedicated professionals.

These individuals are concerned. Medical professionals throughout the state and across the country are concerned.

We should all be concerned because current trends tell us that this disease continues to spread relatively unchecked.

As we approach the holiday season, it’s imperative that the new Directed Health Measures (DHMs) are followed.

Limit the size of your gatherings, wear masks or choose not to gather at all with people outside of your home.

Even as COVID-19 data continues to look worse by the week, we still have the ability to turn things around by doing one simple thing — caring.

We should all care about the health of our neighbors.

We should all care about the safety of our medical workforce.

We should all care about nursing home residents who have been disproportionately affected.

We all should care about the staff at our grocery stores, restaurants and salons.

We should all care, because it’s the right thing to do.

Wearing a mask, social-distancing and washing hands are small acts of kindness that we can all do to show that we care.

These simple interventions will help decrease disease transmission and save lives.

Consequently, if we don’t make a collective effort to keep each other safe, we will inevitably end up experiencing a winter filled with preventable deaths and unnecessary economic losses.

Regardless of what happens, we’re all in this together.

Andrew McCarty

Hastings

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