Dr. Bow Tie
March 15th: Breaking the COVID-19 Silence
I’ve been pretty quiet about COVID-19 on social media. I have had conversations with myriad healthcare providers and workers at and outside of work, and with my non-hospital friends. When this started just a few short weeks ago, there was a healthy degree of skepticism, and I was among that. I downplayed the media frenzy and tried to be a calming influence, while emphasizing cleanliness and hand-washing.
I’m not skeptical anymore. This virus is dangerous. There’s plenty of data out there, plenty of numbers and graphs. But I’m still seeing people comparing it to the flu (yes, the flu is still dangerous and you should get your flu shot when this is over with), and claiming it’s not anything to worry about. I’m still seeing people claim that COVID-19 is a media hoax.
Let me address the human side.
Italy is on complete lockdown, quickly running out of ventilators and ICU beds, and healthcare workers to treat the patients in those beds. The virus has spread to so many other countries, and is rapidly going to every state, if it’s not there already. This is not some media-perpetrated hype. This is only the beginning. That’s not a fear-mongering statement, it’s fact. The reason the numbers of cases and deaths aren’t as high as H1N1 and influenza is that COVID-19 isn’t done spreading and infecting yet. We have to stop it now, and that means staying out of the 6-foot zone of spread from others, and out of the 20-day shedding period. It’s not just about you. It’s about your loved ones, your elderly and your immunocompromised friends and family. It’s about not letting this get as bad as the flu or H1N1.
I realize social distancing is disruptive. I realize it’s inconvenient to not be able to drink on St. Patrick’s Day or go to professional conferences or go out to day-to-day activities/gatherings. I realize it’s hard to be at home and not leave the house for anything but the essentials. I don’t have kids, but I can’t imagine what it must be like for them to be stuck at home now that schools are closed. And to not even be able to take advantage of it with a trip or an outing! But it won’t be for long (in the long run, that is). And hopefully it will be worth it.
We must stop the spread, and flatten the curve (you’ve seen that, right? If not, please look it up). Want to learn more? The epidemiologist and physician Dr. Abdul el-Sayed has created a great podcast about American healthcare. Season 2 is going to be dedicated to COVID-19. Learn why we have to do this, this way.