State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Letter: Leave No Person Behind

on April 20, 2020 4:45 AM

In response to Lt. Col. Hendrickson’s piece last week, I would like to add some thoughts. I was surprised by his thinking of how a nation fights a war. I learned in my time in the Army to leave no person behind, no matter the cost. When we talk about loss, it is not just monetary. It is human.

Nations fight wars, not 50 individual commanders. If one of the 50 commanders lessens or eases the restrictions, it endangers every state. As an Army vet, at no time did I or my NCOs and officers ever ask which state I was from to determine how we proceed. At no time did some soldiers get the necessary equipment to fight an enemy and others not based on their state. No soldier ever had to beg their commanders for the equipment. That is how nations act in times of crisis.

I want no person to have to go through what my mom endured, dying from COVID-19 with only a nurse, no family. She was quarantined for 27 days prior to her infection. The staff was checked every time they entered the building as well as my mom, every time a staff member entered her room. It was still able to get in the facility and that is my point. We have no idea, who, how or where.

I, perhaps more than most, want this to end. I want to go back to my classroom. I want to see my sister and cry about our loss. I want to hug my daughter in Harrisburg. I want those things for all people. Until we test, use data and decide that we get through this as a nation, the deaths will continue. We can do better.

We need massive testing on a local, state and national level. We are the United States and we cannot ensure the safety of our citizens. This is a national embarrassment. Until we know who is and who is not positive it is irresponsible to ease restrictions. Again, I use my mom's example: They had all protocols in place and the virus was able to get in, largely because they did not have adequate testing capabilities.

As I said from the beginning, I want no one to get this insidious, vicious virus. But any person who enables, condones or participates in any activity that increases the transmission of this killer virus is complicit. Any person who puts profits over ensuring the health and safety of all is also complicit. Nations fight wars. Any state that eases restrictions endangers every other state and the citizens of that state.

Here are some suggestions that we should all agree upon:

- Demand massive local, statewide and national testing and base any decisions on easing restrictions on data

- Publicly ask the protest planned for this week in Harrisburg to stand down.

- Publicly demand all 50 state legislatures use data and testing to determine how and when to ease restrictions. This easing must be done in concert with all states, as a nation.

Andy Merritt

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