COVID-19: We need to be part of the solution, not the problem!

By Elpidio R. Estioko

If we want to end the pandemic, we need to be part of the solution, not the problem! While this is easier said than done, it can be done. It’s just a matter of discipline, I think!

This is pursuant to the message of Centers for Disease Control (CDC) director Dr. Robert Reidfield which was corroborated by Dr. Anthony Fauci, saying “Everyone should take personal responsibility!”

Reidfield said: “It is our collective responsibility to protect the vulnerable from COVID-19–continue to social distance, wear face coverings, practice hand hygiene and get tested. As Dr. Fauci said, “the only way we will end this is by ending it together.” 

While both Presidential advisers on COVID-19 emphasized the importance of all these guidelines, however, our very own President Donald Trump and Cice President Mike Pence are both not abiding with wearing the mask guideline. 

President Trump doesn’t wear mask because allegedly “he doesn’t like how it looks.”  Vice President Pence, head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, a task force that “coordinates and oversees the Administration’s efforts to monitor, prevent, contain, and mitigate the spread” of COVID-19, doesn’t wear mask too.

As I See It, when the President, the vice president and practically everyone around them doesn’t wear masks, they are sending a message: “Masks aren’t necessary or optional despite science and virtually every doctor, medical professional and infectious disease expert has said that mask wearing is the single best defense against a second surge of the virus as the county begins to reopen.”

Lest we forget that this isn’t about convenience or not liking it! This is about public health. We wear a mask to protect other people, especially those who are older or have pre-existing medical conditions–since we know COVID-19 is far more dangerous to them.

Winning the fight against the COVID-19 requires that we all understand we’re in this together and responsible for every action we do. I guess, what Trump and Pence are doing is a confusing situation that somehow splits the American people. Actually, our nation’s leaders, are sending mixed messages!

This is not fantasy but a real situation because in a study released by the National Academy of Sciences earlier this month, the authors concluded: “Our analysis reveals that the difference with and without mandated face covering represents the determinant in shaping the trends of the pandemic. This protective measure significantly reduces the number of infections. Other mitigation measures, such as social distancing implemented in the United States, are insufficient by themselves in protecting the public.”

The CDC highly recommends mask-wearing outside regardless of whether they have fever or COVID-19 symptoms. Because according to CDC, there’s “evidence that people with COVID-19 can spread the disease, even when they don’t have any symptoms.”

COVID-19 is not going anywhere! It’s surging and posing more dangers as it did in the first wave. It’s not true that it’s fading away.

We need full responsibility in getting infected with COVID-19 in all levels of society because if we get infected, we are part of the problem and not the solution. “A risk for you isn’t just isolated to you. Because if you get infected, you are part–innocently or inadvertently–of propagating the dynamic process of the pandemic,” Fauci said. 

Dr. Fauci warned Americans, particularly those in younger generations, that they have a “societal responsibility” to avoid getting infected with COVID-19. 

In a Friday briefing in the White House Coronavirus task force, Dr. Fauci said: “You have an individual responsibility to yourself, but you have a social responsibility because if we want to end this outbreak–really end it–and hopefully when a vaccine comes and puts the nail in the coffin, we’ve got to realize we are part of the process.” 

The CDC adopts a multi-pronged approach to fight the COVID-19 pandemic which calls for case investigation and contact tracing. The CDC webpage highlights basic principles of case investigation and contact tracing to stop COVID-19 transmission and detailed guidance for health departments and all concerned. If we follow these guidelines, for sure we are part of the solution and not the problem. 

Case investigation and contact tracing calls for immediate action, so immediately, a large community-based workforce must be trained to responsively work collaboratively across public and private agencies to stop the transmission of COVID-19.

The approach is for people who were confirmed positive must be able to identify everyone with whom they have had close contact with. This is important so public health staff can begin contact tracing. They need to immediately warn those exposed individuals (contacts) of their potential exposure. 

The CDC guidelines require contacts to stay home. They need to maintain social distancing (at least 6 feet apart) and if they become ill, they need to quarantine themselves for 14 days after their last exposure. They should monitor themselves by checking their temperature twice daily and watching for cough or shortness of breath. Contacts who develop symptoms should promptly isolate themselves and notify public health staff and they should be promptly evaluated for infection and for the need for medical care.

All information gathered must be managed, analyzed and linked with timely testing, clinical services, and agile data management systems making the overall process more efficient. 

Defeating the virus needs social responsibility where a concerted effort is needed making us a part of the solution, not the problem!

ELPIDIO ESTIOKO was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and an award-winning journalist here in the US. For feedbacks, comments… please email the author at

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