Anthony J. Hericks, DO

I’m writing not only as a fellow resident of South Dakota (born and raised here), but a friend, son, brother, father, husband and a front-line health care provider.

COVID-19 is REAL. It causes people to become critically ill; it can result in premature death at any age and it is here to stay for a while. This is not a political virus; it doesn’t care if you are young or old. It just does what it does and we have no control over how severely it will affect you.

What can we do – right now – to make South Dakota a safer place?

I think of the ethical principle of “benevolence” – the virtue of acting in a way that will not only help you, but will also help others and provide a greater good for all.

This means wearing a mask and social distancing. Getting tested if you have symptoms and isolating if you are asked to. Washing your hands often. Avoiding gatherings where it’s impossible to be 6 feet away from someone else.

I know, there have been conflicting reports, but we see more evidence pointing toward that fact that if you wear a mask and I wear a mask, the likelihood of either of us getting COVID-19 becomes significantly less.

There are people thinking “if I get it, I’ll just have flu-like symptoms and get over it.” It’s true, the majority of people who get COVID-19 are not going to get deathly ill, need to be hospitalized and/or die.

Children may be the least affected, followed by young adults. Yet they can expose the older population and people with health problems who are at higher risk of hospitalization and death.

There are also people thinking “we all just need to get it and get it over with.”

In the hospital right now, we are very busy with a lot of sick people – some of which have nothing to do with COVID-19. As we see more COVID-19 cases admitted to the hospital, we use more of our capacity – both in terms of building (rooms and beds) and human resources (nurses, respiratory therapists, food service workers, etc.).

If we slow COVID-19 down, those resources will not be consumed as fast and will be available for all who need them. The person who needs hospital resources could be me, you or one of our loved ones.

So as a fellow South Dakotan and as a physician who lives and breathes this every day and night, I implore you to follow the principle of benevolence – do your part and encourage others to do the same.

Sincerely and God Bless,

Anthony J. Hericks, DO

Avera Medical Group Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine Specialist and Intensivist

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