To the editor:

Over the past several weeks, life as we know it has changed. Nations struggle to cope with a growing number of COVID-19 patients, economies are crumbling, people are out of work, schools and restaurants are closed, politicians are arguing, and grocery store shelves are nearly empty. It is a time of uncertainty for all and I understand that we all feel a bit vulnerable right now.

That being said, I believe we as humanity will learn and grow from this situation. I have already seen some amazing changes that will positively impact our world in the future. A few of these observations are:

• Handwashing has improved globally and will help limit the spread of common colds, the flu, and the newest coronavirus;

• People understand they are not as safe as they thought they were and I feel this makes us more grateful for small joys in life;

• Hospitals have learned to make numerous changes at lightning speed for the safety of their communities;

• Physicians realize that not all patients need to be seen in the office. Such realizations could help us with future healthcare improvements nationally;

• Online schooling options have advanced dramatically in just a few weeks and will help us have a more robust education system.

• And all of us will never take toilet paper for granted again!

Yes, in the past few weeks I have seen people react to these changes in many different ways. I have seen anger, fear, humility, faith, hope, and courage. I have seen fear and anger for sure. For example, I was in line at H-E-B and the woman in front of me cursed at the young and nervous checker, saying it was his fault she could not find paper towels. People who are normally calm and unflappable appear irritable and on edge. And I hear the fear everywhere. Fear of dying, fear of not being able to pay the rent, fear of the unknown. The fear manifests in many ways including hopelessness, anger, tension, lack of trust, and hoarding. This fear is pervasive and contagious. However, I believe as a society we will not remain in this place of fear, but rise above and learn how to better emotionally deal with such fearful situations.

I am gladdened to see many examples of people leaving the fear behind and embracing kindness and compassion instead. My neighbors are sharing food and toilet paper. The hospital volunteers are isolated at home and making masks in case they are needed by those who care for patients. Physicians, nurses, and support staff come to work at Peterson Health every day to take care of the persons who need them. The postal delivery guy still waves and smiles as he fills my mail box. My neighbors still call with funny stories about their grandchildren.

This is a difficult time for all of us, but I remain hopeful that we will learn and become better than we were before. The Coronavirus is a real threat, a true danger. But we will survive as humanity through this and I believe we will be defined in how we handled this crisis. Did we handle with fear, anger, and hoarding? Or did we handle with faith, love, and courage? After this is over we will all look back and reflect, and my hope is that we become better; better humans, better communities, a better nation, a better world.

– Audrey Cortez,

RN, MSN, CPXP

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