Don’t let complacency over mitigation efforts cause a backslide
Anyone who has ever worked for the Department of Defense has heard there is no room for complacency in the military.
This holds true on the battlefield, as well as in training areas and offices — anywhere overconfidence and inattention can lead to disaster.
When it comes to COVID-19 mitigation practices, such as proper hand-washing, social distancing and mask-wearing, complacency holds the potential to undo the progress made over the past five months as communities across the country — military and civilian alike — begin to implement re-opening procedures.
It’s easy to be mentally weary of COVID-19. Through more than 17 weeks of quarantines, closures, travel restrictions, adjusting to stay-at-home routines, augmented training regimens and other disruptions, it’s obvious that the challenge presented by the novel coronavirus is a marathon rather than a sprint. As a nation, state and community, we’ve obviously run a good portion of that race together already — and in most areas of the country, we’ve experienced successes alongside a few setbacks.
How much of that marathon still lies ahead depends on each of us and our behavior at work, at home and elsewhere. A renewed focus on mitigation measures and daily discipline in carrying them out can go a long way toward continued progress.
Here are a few steps each of us can take not only to keep ourselves, our families and our communities safe but also continue to keep moving forward together:
— Review the rules. Whether a service member or civilian working on or off post, now is the time to review the safety practices required by your installation, municipality or employer. (You can find the latest Fort Leonard Wood guidelines at https://www.myguidon.com/fort-leonard-wood-changes-local-travel-restrictions-health-protection-condition/). If you have children at home, now is also a good time to review the rules they must follow, too.
— Practice daily discipline. Once you know the rules, think about how you can apply them at the start of each day and then make it a priority to put them into practice.
— Remember that all rules are important. It doesn’t do anybody much good if you don’t wear a mask but end up infecting a coworker or passerby because you fail at social distancing (or handwashing — yuck!). Keep in mind that all mitigation rules are there for a reason.
— Change your pace. If you find you’re getting into a rut, try changing one or two things, if applicable, to keep focused, such as wearing a new type of face covering, reviewing safety practices at bedtime rather than in the morning, making up cadences or work songs to enforce healthy practices, etc.
— Go above and beyond. While the rules where you live and work may not require certain practices, such as mask-wearing, that doesn’t mean you can’t do more than the minimum requirement. Feel free to go above and beyond as far as safety practices for you and your family are concerned.
— Issue corrections when needed (but be courteous). While military service members are duty-bound to issue corrections to other service members when they see something out of place, it’s a little more complicated in the civilian world. Civilians off-post may find themselves in situations where correcting someone else is warranted for their own health and safety — such as another person putting them at risk by failing to socially distance at a store, for example. Just remember to keep it brief, calm and polite, and be prepared to walk away if the other person tries to escalate the situation. After all, it’s impossible for two people to be properly socially distanced if they’re in each other’s faces.
When it comes to mitigation practices, failure to meet complacency with discipline has the potential to cause a backslide in the fight against COVID-19, which could lead to a repeat of harsher, stay-at-home orders and other measures many of us experienced at the outbreak of the pandemic.
While defeating the novel coronavirus will take continued time and effort, we all have control over our own actions. That gives each of us the power to make a difference in the fight against COVID-19.
If we all do our part, we will win that fight together.