After nine months of grappling with the coronavirus, Douglas County Health Director Adi Pour sees hope.
Hope that a vaccine appears to be on the horizon, though it may be a few months — but at least we can start to see the horizon.
Hope that “the spirit of Nebraskans,” as she put it, will see us through the current, still-rising spike in cases of COVID-19. Hope that a new media campaign will spread a broader, comprehensive message that reaches more people and helps them cope.
The statewide “Do Right Right Now” campaign, led by the Douglas County Health Department and Omaha Community Foundation, kicked off Thursday with an array of media partners, including The World-Herald, which will run public service announcements during the six- to nine-month campaign. The message also will appear on television and radio, billboards, bus benches and social media.
The messages at DoRightRightNow.org are familiar. Wear masks. Wash your hands. Socially distance. Get a flu shot. And take care of your mental health. A hotline is set up at 800-464-0258.
We all are weary of COVID and this lost year. Pour told The World-Herald she’s seen the strain in her organization, in her family and in the community.
She also said we need to shift our mindset from looking at the “really small measures” most of us have been asked to take as a burden to realizing “we still have a good life. We have everything we need in this community.”
That’s where the new campaign comes in. It points us to resources and reminds us, again, of the steps that are within our power.
Pour, noting that our parents and grandparents sacrificed much more to endure the Great Depression and wars, correctly notes that we need to build our resilience. That the pandemic can be a wake-up call to make our lives less about ourselves and to find positives.
Here at The World-Herald, it’s been a very odd year, just as it has been for everyone else. Newsrooms typically buzz with conversations and energy. While we’ve had big stories to cover, we’ve been disconnected. We’ve had brainstorming sessions and conducted daily business via Zoom and Slack and email and telephone, like everyone else. We’ve worried about the physical health and safety of staffers from the virus and in covering civil unrest.
But our difficulties pale compared with medical workers, teachers and others whose routines put them on the front lines of fighting COVID-19 or at daily risk of exposure.
For them most of all, I urge Nebraskans to listen again to the messages of this new campaign. Don’t be stubborn. The virus knows no politics. Don’t give in to the pandemic fatigue. Don’t be afraid to call that mental health line — or just to call a friend, particularly over the holidays and during the isolation of winter.
Pour is right. We can push through these next few months. We’ll get impatient waiting for the vaccine. We’ll miss some more activities. But we can make it through.
Like so many people, I love the warmth (and food) of Thanksgiving. This year, I can be grateful that my wife and I have not been sickened by the virus. The people I know who have had COVID, including my grown son in Los Angeles, have pulled through. Only a couple of them have been seriously ill and none has been hospitalized.
So many have been less fortunate. So many have lost loved ones.
We can learn and grow from this awful year. And next Thanksgiving will be even better.