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Dear Decaturish – Gov. Kemp, why should I volunteer to help if you won’t mandate masks?

COVID-19 Editor's Pick Metro ATL

Dear Decaturish – Gov. Kemp, why should I volunteer to help if you won’t mandate masks?

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FILE PHOTO USED FOR ILLUSTRATION PURPOSES: Pearson Collins wears a protective mask while sitting outdoors in DeKalb County on April 18, 2020. Photo by Dean Hesse.


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Dear Decaturish,

This letter is specifically addressed to Gov. Brian Kemp.

I am preparing to fill out a form, but as I sit here debating its submission, I want to share my thoughts with you.

I am in a difficult position; you see…I am a nurse.  I am not the nurse who is on the front lines, exhausted and suffering from PTSD after putting patient after patient in body bags and acting as a proxy for their loved ones as they died.  I am the nurse who left scrubs behind for a consulting career, wheeling suitcases instead of stretchers.   When COVID hit our world, my job turned to remotely helping hospitals develop contingency plans, backlogs of elective cases, and procuring supplies and staff.

Not being affiliated with a hospital, I signed up to volunteer with the Dekalb County Medical Reserve Corp.  This was not new to me as I was a member of the GA DMAT medical teams during Katrina and 9/11, ready to serve if called.   Throughout this Spring, we were never called upon—it seemed that the sheltering in place and essential travel restrictions were working.

Now my conundrum:  this week I received notification that our state needs my help—but my situation has changed.  You see, my 94-year-old father in law moved in with us after losing his wife to COVID in a Massachusetts memory care home.  If I submit this form, I am potentially exposing my family to COVID.  If I do not, I am forgoing my oath to serve human welfare and abandoning my community, which feels unconscionable.

The lack of a mask mandate is an untenable position.  Its absence is responsible for this situation…this spike in cases and death…the shortages of PPE, and unprecedented occupancy rates of ICUs in the entire state.  This was all preventable.

While we cannot legislate morality, we can begin to change culture by hardwiring process, which is exactly what a mask mandate, and subsequent fines, would have done.  Our ‘rights’ should be balanced with our responsibilities to community—something that is often overlooked.  This pandemic is unprecedented in our lifetime and so is the work it will take to mitigate the virus… which includes wearing a mask.  This could have been so simple.

So tell me, sir.  What would you do in my position?  Do I risk my family’s lives or leave my fellow nurses without help caring for a terrified and vulnerable state?

….Do I push ‘submit?’


CJ Levine

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