I went for a walk today to get out of the house, but to keep up with social distancing. We passed a bar, and dozens of people were sitting next to each other at the counter, and small tables and I wondered, “What is going to change people’s minds and make them care about the health of others?”

Shortly after I got home, the governor of California followed Ohio and Illinois’s lead. He ordered all of our bars closed, and our restaurants have to move tables to provide for social distancing. My cousin in Ohio said, “If people are going to be irresponsible, then the government is going to have to step in and mandate that we do the right thing for each other.”

My husband has a compromised immune system and damaged lungs. He is at risk for severe and possibly life-threatening complications. My mom and stepdad and my dad and stepmom are all over the age of eighty, and most have underlying health conditions that make them high risk. It recently came out in the press that those over eighty who are sick in Italy will be left to die. Italy’s health system simply can’t handle all the people needing care (you can easily find articles about this online).

Perhaps the thing that gutted me the most was that people in every country where the virus is present, are dying alone. Family members can’t visit many who are sick because they are in isolation. Just knowing that people are dying alone without loved ones surrounding them pushed me to a new level of anxiety, fear, and sadness.

I don’t think any person should die alone. I don’t think anyone wants to decide who lives and who dies like the doctors are doing in Italy. I can’t believe people refuse to stay home for two to three weeks to save another person’s life. Rarely in this life do we get the chance to be heroes. If we are not doctors or nurses, we rarely had the opportunity to save a life. Now is the time. Right now is our time to be great, to be heroic, to do something that makes a life or death difference. I know you might never get a thank you for not going out to a party, or staying home from a social gathering. But I thank you. My husband thanks you and the millions of people who are high risk would probably thank you too if they knew that you made choices to put their lives over something as trivial as getting a coffee with friends.