The news seems to get progressively more demoralizing when it comes to COVID-19 and that was especially evident upon hearing that an Ixonia EMT, just 42 years old, succumbed to the virus and died last week.
By all accounts, Kelly Raether was everything you would want a public-health provider to be.
She devoted her life to the care of others, and now, tragically, her life was taken from her by the virus that has claimed so many already and will take so many more.
It just seems almost unfair and unjust that a person caring for others would lose her life after performing such selfless acts, but it’s happening all the time.
As of early this week, the number of people around the globe who had lost their lives was closing in on 1.5 million and 273,000 of them were in the United States and of those more than 2,500 were from Wisconsin.
It’s not clear how many were health-care workers, but the International Council of Nurses estimated a month ago that 1,500 in that profession had died and the total has to be more by now.
And that does not include doctors, EMTs and scores of other health-care professionals who have been taken by this ruthless disease.
Kelly was a raising star by most any measure, quickly moving up the ranks as an EMT to the role of captain, working as a nurse at the hospital in Harford and instructing students at Carroll University in Waukesha.
It’s clear her passion for her profession and its importance to the world went far beyond a paycheck.
She lived it in everything she did. Service to others was a higher calling.
We live in a John Wayne world where our society worships rugged individualism. Everyone wants to be the Marlboro man.
But COVID-19 does not care about lifestyle choices.
It indiscriminately takes lives of the deserving and not deserving.
And, as Raether’s death shows, it doesn’t always just claim the elderly or the infirmed.
That is why we must repeat the mantra that every health-care professional keeps preaching: Wear your mask, practice social distancing, clean frequently touched services, avoid crowded buildings, only go out if you have to, if you don’t feel well (fever, aches, sore throat, shortness of breath, coughing and others) then stay home, and get tested as soon as you can.
This is not about taking away individual rights.
It’s about caring for the lives and well being of others.
We can all be carriers and spreaders before we even have any symptoms or know we are infected. And some people can be infected and never show symptoms.
If you care about your neighbors and if you care about health-care workers, it’s really a simple proposition.
The steps are so easy.
So put aside ego, arrogance and the macho attitude and do what we all need to do to beat back this virus.
It is the lives of others that are at stake.
The life of Kelly Raether and hundreds, no thousands of others just like her, might have been saved if we all loved one another and followed some simple directives, instead of acting so selfishly for our own personal interests.