The arrival of a Samaritan’s Purse field hospital is an answer to prayer for many here in the Antelope Valley of California.  Yet for me, I keep wondering, how did we get *here* – and how do we fix it?

There’s a tragedy occurring in my backyard.  The threat isn’t just here.

I’m a do-er, a fix-er, a help-er, and when I can’t do those things tangibly, I write.

So, here are Katye’s unsolicited thoughts and recommendations for our elected leaders and other leaders tasked with guiding us through this once-in-a-century pandemic. (i.e. Public health officials, military installation leaders, supervisors, influencers, news media, teachers, parents, neighbors, and friends… basically, all of us.  If you breathe, you lead, so pay attention.)

1) COVID fatigue is real – and it’s not getting better.

LA County is an example of too closed for too long with nearly no levers left to use for scaling up or down. LA County has been under a “safer at home” order since Nov 30 with no end in sight. But it wasn’t really truly open even in August when it was “better” than spring and far ahead of the fall surge.

For leaders tasked with guiding American communities through this pandemic: LA (and CA as a whole) should serve as chilling reminder of what’s at stake — it is life or death but a one size fits all approach fails to recognize the #nuance required to navigate this crisis.

Take this threat seriously – do your homework.

I don’t expect you to become an expert on the virus, but I do expect you to be an expert on your circles of influence and to lead wisely, with integrity, in those places.

It’s ok to admit what you don’t know even as you explain what you expect, what you’re going to do about it, and how the people you’re leading can be part of the solution.

An example from my house: “No girls, I don’t know if schools are going to open at all this year, but I’m paying attention to the information we receive from the school district, our county officials, and the state. When and if the restrictions are lifted, even partially, we will get out more to explore and hopefully make friends.  In the meantime, let’s make a list of activities we can do here at home or outside on our own.  We’ll take it one day at a time.  We will get through this together, someday we’ll have quite a story to tell.”

2) Words matter, especially about the ongoing threat of this virus.

Leaders must clearly communicate plans to protect & prevent further surge transmissions — and to ensure efficient vaccination distribution.

We’ve seen what happens when leaders fail to use their platforms wisely.

Public officials and leaders with a public platform have a duty to educate and equip their audience. Crisis communications must be clear and unequivocally state rules and expectations.

3) Rules and guidelines mean nothing if they aren’t enforced.

LA has a curfew but some law enforcement officials have said they won’t ticket or enforce the curfew or gathering restrictions. This is clearly evident at my local park where baseball teams play without masks as parents tailgate or congregate on the playgrounds.

4) Rules don’t work if people don’t trust their leaders or the experts. 

Trust in government and public officials is at an all-time low. I believe what we’re seeing with this virus is an example of life in a post-truth paradigm where people opt to define their own truth.

I arrived in California late this summer expecting to have to acclimate to the “Left Coast,” but the shocking reality is I’ve now lost track of the number of times I’ve been told this is a “plandemic” or communist assault on my American freedoms.

Too many people have accepted false narratives of fear. It should be common sense to follow health precautionary measures recommended by the government or health professionals.

Wearing a mask is a sign of respect and humility, especially when you choose to do so even if you don’t want to or “believe” in its efficacy.

5) These circumstances reveal how selfish and entitled we’ve become.

There’s a shocking lack of respect for others.  What I want, need, deserve, or am entitled to is paramount over caring for others. “You’re high risk? YOU stay home. Let me live my life the way I want.”

Sadly, some of the people complaining loudest against the closures are people who claim rules are an assault on faith. Last time I checked, Christians are called to sacrifice and service as Christ did, humbly submitting even our own lives.

Historical accounts tell us Christians in the early church cared for people suffering from plague when everyone else ran the other way. Their willingness to sacrifice their own right to good health paved the way for hundreds to believe the truth about Jesus Christ.

I find myself wondering how that history of faith aligns with today’s examples of defending individual “rights?”

So what?  What can we do about it?

Just the basics: All of us can take preventative and protective steps to flatten the curve by following all basic health precautions including but not limited to: wash your hands often, wear a mask, and social distance. Consider planning how and where you can scale up your precautions as necessary.

Know the context: Identify where your community falls on virus related health concerns. If testing and positivity isn’t spiking, continue to follow the basics; if positivity increases and or hospital caseloads increase, take steps to minimize your impact by limiting widespread interaction.

Spread facts, not fear: If you feel an information delay or encounter questions you cannot answer, do not fill the vacuum with conjecture, hyperbole, or hearsay.  Do not repeat as fact a statement or story offered as an opinion. Stick to the facts, from credible sources like the CDC.

Pray: We cry to you Lord, in our trouble.  Save us from our distress, turn our hearts to you. (Psalm 107:13) We desire to dwell in the shelter of You, the Most High, the rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  In the face of trouble, help us to say, “You Lord are my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2)