We All Have a Responsibility: Responding to COVID-19

Richard Brach '23
Richard Brach ’22

Written by Richard Brach ’22

The novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has affected every facet of our society. Here in Vermont, vacant gymnasiums and college campuses are being prepared to house and isolate patients from overflowing hospitals. No one is immune to SARS-CoV-2. While Governor Phil Scott is mandating all Vermonters to stay at home, certain disadvantaged groups such as elderly, disabled, houseless, undocumented, low-income, and victims of domestic violence will face the economic and physical effects more than others.

We cannot go back in time and change our preparedness, but we can engage in activities that promote the well-being and safety of others. These include: 1) protecting essential workers by taking social distancing seriously, 2) identifying and supporting unmet needs in the community, and 3) learning from our mistakes and advocating for necessary systemic changes.

While I was initially disappointed about the postponement of my first clinical rotation, I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be in a position where I can continue my education online while also contributing to some of the ongoing efforts in the community. Talking with classmates in the Larner College of Medicine Cares Service Corp – COVID-19 Task Force and Social Justice Coalition, I came across mutual aid documents and GoFundMe campaigns, in which people were distributing resources to those that need it most right now.

Thinking of how else I could contribute, I contacted Age Well to inquire about their Meals on Wheels program. The morning of my training was the first time in weeks that I had seen more than three people in person. Volunteers arrived to fill their cars with containers of pre-packaged meals. My trainer, Terry Bosworth, and I drove in separate cars to maintain social distancing, delivered meals to the doorsteps of about 15 homes in downtown Burlington, and even chatted for a few minutes with some residents (at a distance, of course). It didn’t take me long to realize how valuable this service is. I have since picked up a few weekly routes of my own.

In a time of such suffering, practicing solidarity is important now more than ever. Doing so will help mitigate some of the long-lasting effects this crisis will have on people’s lives. When this pandemic finally ends and all is said and done, our lives will be changed forever. Although this crisis seems to have upended our lives, issues around healthcare, housing, income inequality, and food insecurity have always been there. SARS-CoV-2 has just brought them to light.

  • Watch an NBC-5 segment featuring Richard Brach ’22 and his volunteer work with Meals on Wheels

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