The fight against COVID-19 is far from over

OPINION
By SUSAN PALMES-DENNIS
May 22, 2021

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Rockingham, North Carolina—First off, I would like to extend my condolences to the family of Arnold Nadala, who passed away in the early hours of May 18 (Tuesday). I’ve yet to verify the cause of death but it’s definitely not COVID-19. Still due to the strict COVID-19 health protocols in place in Cagayan de Oro City, attendance in his wake and eventual burial will be limited.

The City Information Office posted a tribute video to Arnold which followed his career as co-host of the TV programs that promoted the administration of Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno. I also knew him on his early days at the (temporarily) defunct ABS-CBN during my career as (ahem) a tri-media practitioner in Cagayan de Oro City.  Farewell, Arnold and may your memory be cherished by your family and friends long after you’ve been gone.

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More than a year passed since it broke out and the COVID-19 pandemic is continually testing the limits of our inner strength and resolve as well as our sense of self-discipline, responsibility and accountability not only to ourselves but to our families, friends and neighbors.

It pains me to read Facebook posts of friends and acquaintances dying in Cagayan de Oro City and in Misamis Oriental province due to Covid-19. Among them were Patag barangay captain Maricor Calizo and Romeo Naces.  I also read Facebook posts clarifying that local marketing guru Gabby Bacarro didn’t die of COVID-19 which still doesn’t remove the sadness over his untimely demise.

For me, there’s too much death and sickness hovering around and it is scary. Sometimes when I post photos of my weekly adventures in my adoptive country of the US in Facebook I feel guilty. The guilt comes from the concerns posted by friends over my safety especially as I am a breast cancer survivor.

The guilt also comes from the fact that here in North Carolina, health protocols had been eased to allow seniors like me to enjoy the lives we used to have before the pandemic while back in the Philippines, my loved ones remain under the longest running quarantine in the world.

I also look with some concern over the recent spike of COVID-19 cases in Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental and northern Mindanao. In Cagayan de Oro particularly the surge in cases is eating up the city’s critical care utilization rate (CCUR) which is the basis for determining a local government’s quarantine status every month.

I know that Mayor Oscar Moreno’s administration is doing everything it can to stem the tide and I fully agree with his call on the people of Cagayan de Oro City to step up to the plate and help City Hall in defeating the virus by protecting themselves through compliance to minimum public health protocols. Sadly that has yet to be fully realized and until then, I join the growing number of Kagay-anons who keep the faith and stand with City Hall’s frontliners in battling the virus.

The Philippines of which Cagayan de Oro City is part of is still a long way off from achieving herd immunity which is lately being realized in some parts of the US due to the massive vaccination campaign. Trust me, even after I completed my two-dose vaccination I’m still following minimum health protocols despite the easing of quarantine restrictions here.

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Before I forget, I thank Rosemary Castillo, a classmate now based in Manila, for voicing her concern on my health.  Don’t worry Rosie, I follow the protocols and will never let my guard down until the virus is contained.

Speaking of discipline, I ask whether it is a virtue in itself or a skill developed over time. Whatever it is, self-discipline is important at this time when COVID-19 cases in the Philippines already reached 1.15 million and a death toll of 19,372. Self-discipline is knowing in your heart and mind what needs to be done and doing it without reservations or doubts even if you don’t want to do it.

Here in North Carolina, a person hosting a party makes sure to remind guests not to go if he or she displays COVID-19 symptoms and the guests are responsible enough to avoid attending if they even have the slightest suspicion of being infected. Some even conduct temperature checks and the parties are held in open spaces to allow for physical distancing. Photo ops are done in less than five minutes and it’s back to face masks or keeping our distances to each other.

Aside from the lack of discipline among the Filipinos, I also noticed that Pinoys hide from medical authorities symptoms like fever, coughing and colds or refuse to disclose that they had contact with a possible COVID-19 case. In effect they play hide and seek with the health authorities and contribute to aggravating the spread of the virus within their immediate communities, leading to hospitals being overwhelmed with admissions of sick and dying patients.

The key to fight this pandemic is for us to do what we know needs to be done even if we don’t want to do it for one reason or another.  Don’t wait for the authorities or worse, the virus to hit you.

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PS: i attended the birthday party of three-year-old Brynnely Heart Matthewson hosted by her parents Mr. and Mrs. Harry Brent Matthewson Jr.  Carol is a great party host and she made sure that the guests were gathered in separate groups in an open space to allow for physical distancing.  Thanks to the Matthewson family for the lovely party.


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