Former President Barack Obama thanked the health care workers fighting the novel coronavirus pandemic, spotlighting the story of one family impacted by combating the virus and urging Americans to show similar commitment to the common good.
“We owe a profound debt of gratitude to all our health professionals and everybody who’ll be on the front lines of this pandemic for a long while,” Obama tweeted on Tuesday, sharing the story of a family in which the father, a doctor, had opted to self-quarantine away from his family while treating coronavirus patients.
“They’re giving everything,” Obama added. “May we all model our own behavior on their selflessness and sacrifice as we help each other through this.”
Obama referenced the circumstances of Rachel Patzer, a medical professor who tweeted on Tuesday that she and her husband, an emergency department physician, “made the difficult decision for him to isolate & move into our garage apartment for the foreseeable future as he continues to treat patients.”
Patzer said that the couple has two young children and a 3-week-old newborn, who her husband would not get to spend time with and she must care for and home school. Thirty-seven states have closed public schools in light of the outbreak.
“As I attempt to home school my kids (alone) with a new baby who screams if she isn’t held, I am worried about the health of my spouse and my family,” she said.
Patzer also expressed frustration with people who have chosen not to practice “social distancing,” a recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defined as “remaining out of places where people meet or gather” and “avoiding local public transportation” — even if one does not have any symptoms of the virus — as a way to slow the spread of the disease. The Trump administration also unveiled new guidelines on Monday advising people to avoid gathering in groups of more than 10, going to bars, restaurants and food courts, and non-essential traveling to staunch the spread of the pandemic.
“It is difficult to see pictures of all the people at bars and restaurants, socializing, making play dates, and ignoring social distancing recommendations when I know my husband and many other health care workers are risking their lives to treat more sick patients,” Patzer said.
She urged people to take the outbreak seriously and to “please thank a health care worker for what they are doing and sacrificing.”