To the Editor:

As a physician and retired Pocatello pediatrician, I am too familiar with the harm that can occur when patients indulge themselves in that magical thought of invulnerability.

So far, the national narrative about this novel coronavirus pandemic has largely centered around the number of deaths and the particular vulnerability of the elderly and the chronically ill — a correct, but incomplete observation, much like describing the human cost of war only in terms of the number of dead, as if the suffering of the wounded and disabled didn't count, eclipsed by the finality of death.

This virus has been with us only a few months, not nearly long enough to follow its spore all the way to the end of an infection. However, in that time, caretakers have been sobered by all of the systems (heart, brain, lungs, etc). that it can attack and damage.

In other words, no one should be nonchalant about being infected, no matter how trivial the infection may seem at the time.

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Staying alert and compliant with public health recommendations does more than just help to protect those who we know are vulnerable: we are showing respect for what we don't yet know about this virus's capacity for harm.

I bring this up, not to increase our anxiety, but rather to increase our resolve, and maybe to stimulate some genetic memory of how humans must have cooperated to survive each major crisis in their incredible human journey.

We need to continue the practices (hand washing, masks, and distancing) that we know will frustrate this virus's attempt to infect us, not until we become weary and give up, but until this virus is overcome by our resilience.

William Hogan