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To the People Still Going Out 'For Fun' Despite the Coronavirus Outbreak

Frequent hand-washing.

Bleaching surfaces. 

Hand sanitizer.

Staying home when sick. 

These are practices well known to the chronic illness community. 

Daily practices that we have been doing for years.

To our dismay, the need for these practices is questioned regularly.

To our disappointment and hurt, those around us don’t always follow suit. Or worse, they believe we are “being dramatic.” 

And as a result, they show up sick or bring sick family members, while claiming are they are better. 

But we regretfully know in our bones that a fever in the last 24 hours is still sick.

And a stomach bug in the last 72 hours is sick.

And we unfortunately know what it feels like to get sick because of someone else’s lack of concern or ignorance. Or worse, we know the flushing shame felt in leaving a party early upon learning of a sick friend or family member.

We don’t want to be this way. 

We don’t want to have to care so much all the time.

It’s exhausting, often awkward, misunderstood and socially isolating.

But it’s our reality.

Because sick for us doesn’t look the same as it does for you.

And the risks for us are much higher, as the sickness lasts much longer and is often more severe. 

And now the world has gone on high alert for the growing outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) — the new viral strain in the coronavirus family that affects the lungs and respiratory system. Government officials within the United States have issued recommendations for social distancing, frequent hand-washing and the like. And even with evidence of great suffering for particular populations, it is disheartening to see the great number of people that still remain cavalier.

“It’s just a cold.”

“I’m not sick. Why should I stay home?” 

And I can’t help but wonder what it will take for it to become real for people? 

Are we so callous as a nation that we can’t sit home for a few weeks and wash our hands?

Are we so self-absorbed that we can’t be bothered by restrictions even though it may save someone’s mom, or a friend with multiple sclerosis, or a neighbor with heart disease?

So many opinions. But my friends, where is your compassion? 

As someone who has battled lupus for the past 16 years and remains on numerous immune suppressing medications, I urge you to stay home. 

As a mom in her second trimester of pregnancy, I plead with you, for the sake of my four children, to wash your hands.

They need their momma.

Please, for the sake of my husband, stop trying to find workarounds for play dates while home.

Could you hold off on seeing your friends or your kid’s friends for a few weeks to help keep those on chemo like myself alive?

My husband doesn’t want to raise a family alone.

Please, for the sake of my parents with great underlying health conditions, could you recall the incubation period is up to 14 days? So while you may go out because you are “not sick after all,” you could be unknowingly infecting 15 other people because of your selfish need to “buck the system.”

And maybe you’re feeling trapped at home with a house full of rambunctious kiddos bursting at the seams. Could you acknowledge the evidence for the virus existing on surfaces and not take your children to the park to play on the play structures for a few short weeks for the sake of others?

Friends, would it be so terrible to spend extended quality time with the family you helped create?

And finally, to the local churches, could you choose to honor government officials who have mandated we not gather in large groups at this time and shut your doors? Could we protect the least of these instead of adding addendums like, “Stay home if sick”? Because we know, people will still come with sick ones at home, and more, the incubation period isn’t immune to church folk.

Friends, could we somehow agree a small amount of discomfort would be worth knowing you were invisibly helping the weak all around you?

You can help to hold up those who can’t fight for themselves.

You can choose others before yourself, even when no else sees.

This is character, friends.

This is empathy. 

And this is what is going to mean life or death for those of us in the few and far between. 

Please remember us today and choose love.

Concerned about coronavirus? Stay safe using the tips from these articles:

GettyImages photos via Ilnur Khisamutdinov

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