It’s Critical to Be Responsible About COVID-19 Outside the Dental Practice

October 5, 2020

Remember, we’re all in this together and we need to do our part to help battle this pandemic.

I am in the mouth of the tiger doing my job and taking risks as a front liner. Why am I afraid? What if I bring this disease home to my family? Mom is frail and will not survive this. How could I live with the guilt of infecting my mom? Some of us feel we take the precautions at work but are lackadaisical in our personal lives. Talking about stopping the spread has been challenging. This is a taboo topic. But we need to talk. The question is whether you are being responsible outside of work. After all, it is no longer just about your health. It is also about everyone else.

You may have heard about the wedding in Millinocket, Maine on August 7. Sixty-two people attended and 170 cases linked so far to this super spreader event. The virus was brought into a nursing home and a prison.1 Eight have now died. Yet, brides are continuing to choose to hold their weddings. Are we a society where we just believe it will not happen to us? Even if the science says the reverse. This is magical thinking.

Just because you want the virus to go away does not make it do so. I get it—it is a wedding, one of the most memorable events in someone’s life. But it can also be one of the deadliest. Do you think a bride will not want to have pictures with her family and friends both with and without masks? The mask pictures will make it funny, right? But you know she will also want photos without those masks to remember this momentous occasion. But, at what cost? A life?

Letting Our Guard Down

People are so cavalier nowadays about being safe and are becoming desensitized to the pandemic. We are sick of it and angry that this is interfering with our regular activities. I get it! I feel the same way. Yet, this is reality. Over 210,000 people in the United States have died from COVID-19 , according to published reports. Does that number even register for most people? Multiply it at least by 5 for the grieving families, and 1 million people are impacted and grieving the loss of their loved one because of COVID-19. And yet, people say, “Do you know anyone who has had it? I don’t know anyone with it.” They write it off due to propaganda or just plain denial. I do not want it to happen, and therefore, it will not happen. It looks like some of us are waiting for COVID-19 to hit us personally before we accept the horror of this illness.

Think about the risks you are taking when you are off the clock. I know that most of you are sick and tired of the personal protective equipment you wear every day at the office. Wearing a face mask is not something anyone is super excited to do. It is hot, uncomfortable, and may cause rashes and acne. When I go outside, I rip it off and gulp the fresh air. We all feel this way. But there are different choices outside of work, like deciding whether to get together with your family and celebrate holidays and birthdays. Or deciding whether to watch the Cleveland Browns play in a crowded bar where you can eat and drink—because that is what people do in a bar. You want to forget the pandemic and the impact on our economy and livelihoods. We all do. But you have a responsibility. It is not just about you anymore. We are truly all in this together.

Choices that do not follow the CDC’s guidelines outside of work are genuinely foolish. You are too smart for that. You entered this field because you care about people. You have worked hard and do a great job. So, please do not blow it. Do not come to work when you are sick or stay if you get sick on the job. Do not send your kid to school the day after they are diagnosed with the virus and then show up in the office. Realize that our survival as a country means following the science.

Be Responsible

In these frightening times, it’s common for people to have more problems with temporomandibular joint dysfunction and not doing their oral hygiene or coming for regular cleanings. Many are eating more junk food and drinking more alcohol. Experts fear depression is way up, as is anxiety. This is a rough time for most of us. Be responsible, not just to your family, but to your patients and colleagues. What do you think is going to happen to your livelihood if you get the virus? Will the practice shut down or close permanently? Will the entire office have to isolate for 2 weeks? Will colleagues and patients get sick and die? Will you end up feeling guilty that you made the wrong choices that led to this catastrophe?

It is time to wake up. Do the right thing. Stay safe. Follow CDC guidelines for safety outside and inside the practice. Wear the mask the correct way. Remember that you are part of a team. Your practice is no longer just about you and your needs. Make wise choices in both your career and personal lives. Everything interconnects.

Do you agree with my opinions? Email me at diana2@discussdirective.com and let me know your thoughts on this topic. I really would like to hear them.

Reference
1. Sharp, D., Associated Press, 8th Coronavirus Death Tied to Wedding in Maine, https://www.necn.com/news/local/8th-coronavirus-death-tied-to-wedding-in-maine/2325450/ Accessed on Sept. 21, 2020