The pandemic has presented great challenges for everyone across our state, country, and the world.
One of the greatest challenges perhaps is this – choosing to show compassion and support when the instinct is to fight and attack others who think, feel, and act differently than we do.
Communities, public officials, and even families are at odds in their views on COVID-19 and the response to it. Never have we seen this level of divisiveness.
And there certainly is a lot of blame being thrown around.
Everyone questions who is responsible for protecting ourselves, our loved ones, the economy, healthcare access, and our kids’ ability to learn in their classrooms.
The answer is all of us. We are all responsible, each in our own way, for doing our part to get us through this dark and difficult time.
The public health district boards, who are the default decision makers for public health under Idaho law, have made tough decisions to protect their communities. Mayors, county officials, and school board members, too, have stepped up. These courageous leaders have always had and will continue to have my support.
At the state level, we have equipped our hospitals with the resources they need to handle the impacts of COVID-19. We’ve also improved access to testing statewide and will continue to make therapeutics and a vaccine broadly available. We’ve taken numerous statewide actions over the past ten months to communicate the need to reduce transmission in our communities while protecting jobs and education.
And in our individual lives, we must do all we can to stay vigilant and consistently practice simple measures, including wearing a mask, avoiding gatherings and crowds, and keeping physical distance from others. Government alone is not going to prevent a crisis in our healthcare system. It is up to each of us as individuals to make the right choices.
There is an ugliness out there that we can overcome only by uniting around the true enemy – the virus, not each other.
Let us not be trapped into thinking the problem is someone else. The solution is all of us. We all have a role to play in fighting the enemy virus.
I know at times it can be hard to have compassion. But this Christmas season is a time to reflect on family, faith, and unity. Choose to support others while seeking to understand those who do not view things the way you do. We should not let the pandemic divide us, but make us stronger.