Opinion | When We Reopen After This Pandemic, We Can’t Rely on the Band-Aid Approach
Easter Sunday, I sliced off the side of my thumb and a chunk of my nail bed with my kitchen mandolin while cutting vegetables. It was quite a deep, painful amputation that bled profusely for many days.
I consciously did not go to the emergency department due to the COVID-19 threat at my local hospital.
Instead, I self-treated. As such, I experimented with many different forms of bandages and Band-Aids.
When it came time to change my first bandage, it was brutal. It was stuck and encrusted to my wound. Removal was excruciatingly painful. Every slight move seemed to restart horrible bleeding.
Frustrated and in agony, I did what we all do when we want to learn something in quarantine; I asked Google and watched DIY videos on YouTube. Yes — “stuck-on-bandage-removal” videos by board-certified surgeons exist on YouTube.
I was directed to go slowly and methodically. Soaking in warm water, pulling up the edges ever so slowly, cutting the bandage off piece by piece, checking continuously as to not disrupt natural healing.
We must stop the bleeding first. If done too quickly, [ a swift rip of the bandage] is poised only to re-open a deep wound, restart bleeding and undo all the healing thus far.
It took some time. It took some pain. It took some patience. But I did as I was directed. And it worked. After many methodical bandage changes, my wound is now closed and healing well. Clearly success leaves clues.
This whole experience has made me think of the difficult task faced by governments and industry that must plan to re-open our economies while balancing the risk of losing lives to COVID-19 with the risk of losing livelihoods.
This is no easy risk management task. This is not a pain-free task. This is not a frustration-free task.
In all my bandage removal research, oddly, I never did find a video that suggested to “rip off the bandage from a deep wound in one fast move.”
But if we think about it, how often do we use that expression?
Giving the benefit of the doubt, maybe, just maybe, this expression is the rationale for the dangerously premature and hyper-rapid re-openings of some local economies.
Is the thinking that a swift rip of the bandage and abrupt removal of all the emergency safeguards will cause limited pain now to avoid deeper pain over the long run?
No. It is clear. We must stop the bleeding first. If done too quickly, this approach is poised only to re-open a deep wound, restart bleeding and undo all the healing thus far.
Responsible governments and industries must take a careful, step-by-step approach to loosening imposed emergency measures to reopen our local economies.
Top priority must be given to public health and workplace safety while thoughtfully and methodically balancing business needs.
With patient and deliberate monitoring, public health officials must assess each step for how well we are healing from a public health and workplace safety perspective.
Even after most of our economic doors open, we will still need to maintain our protective bandages of physical distancing, distant work arrangements and proper hygiene. And if we experience COVID-19 symptoms, we must continue with self-isolation to help us all fully recover.
This COVID-19 wound is indeed incapacitating. But simply put, the human body needs time. Time to stop the bleeding. Time to heal. Time to recover. And only at the right time and pace, we will restore prosperity and growth well into the future. &