Seven weeks later, as I approached the patient’s birthday – July 4 – I thought it would be a good time to check in and see what the patient was doing.
The answer is: it’s not good at all.
In fact, today we are worse than any previous point in the pandemic, with daily infection rates breaking a record over many days over the past few weeks. Consider this week: 15 states saw the highest seven-day averages, and the country sees about 50,000 new cases a day. We have less than 5% of the global population, but about 25% of coronavirus cases and deaths. Many states, including Texas and Arizona, are on the verge of exceeding the hospital capacity of recently infected patients.
I’m angry as a doctor. I feel that the deterioration of our patient does not have to happen and there are many coercive errors.
At this point, I really thought we would have a different meeting in the country; I thought we would be celebrating the progress we’ve made so far, with fireworks. Instead, I must tell the patient, “The infection has returned with revenge. There is a risk of spreading and getting out of control in some parts of your body.”
And I’m worried – I’m worried that our existing treatments will come to the point where the drugs we carry in our little black bag will no longer be effective, and we will have to resort to the bigger one. weapons, more aggressive measures.
But I am still a little hopeful at the same time; we still have some time to reverse the situation, restart our medicine, take it faithfully – but we can’t spend another minute.
The best care, the best advice
“If the country wants to get sick or become infected, like the human body, it should seek the best medical guidance and follow it as hard as possible.”
Throughout the illness, this patient benefited from excellent medical care. This country is home to the world’s most creative minds, the best doctors and the most experienced public health officials. And together with equally skilled international researchers, they took action, deciphering the genetic makeup of the virus, learning how to spread it, and understanding how to treat it, by discovering all the ways in which the disease occurred. trying to develop a vaccine that will prevent symptoms and hopelessly prevent new cases of infection in the future.
But a few weeks after the doctors’ orders, our patient – our country – chose to turn his back on the advice of these healthcare professionals. He did not like what the doctors said and stopped taking prescription drugs because they were unpleasant.
Some prescriptions, such as social removal and restricting our daily activities, had a bad taste and were difficult to swallow. Others, like wearing a face mask, created some physical discomfort and a lot of political friction. And the most aggressive drug, home orders, triggered unprecedented collective layoffs in many sectors of the economy, and fallout fluctuated from there. In other words, very real pain.
However, it has been shown to work because it is difficult to put the patient in a medically induced coma with home orders to control the infection.
When I first wrote the piece, just before Memorial Day, which was the time of another national holiday, the patient was heading in the right direction. Infection rates had dropped significantly in some of the most difficult hit areas, such as Michigan, Massachusetts, and New York, and were stable in most of the country.
Stopping treatment too early
Then I was worried about stopping the medicine too early – and that’s exactly what happened.
The patient was removed from the medically induced coma very quickly and irregularly, and each situation did its job. Some states reopened immediately, while infection rates were rising (I’m looking at you, Georgia), other states and some cities waited a little longer. However, very few states, if any, met all of the so-called “gate criteria” for reopening set by the White House and the CDC.
In addition to acting too early, these re-openings were often accompanied by confusion of rules, lack of social distance and refusal to wear a mask by a high minority. We all wore photos of presidential press conferences and several masks, if any, together with officials gathering behind packed beaches, crowded bars, protests that support reopening and the podium.
As if our patient woke up, he just shrugged his shoulders and said, “It was a strange nightmare. I’m glad it’s over,” before getting out of bed and getting out of the hospital. However, the infection was still shining under the surface.
Guesses like Cassandra were also ignored
Since then, the healthcare professional healthcare professional has tried to remind us that this epidemic has not gone away. Not only that, he will be here for the foreseeable future. However, there is no unifying directive or action plan from the White House. States react independently. And so the patient continued to do his job, often unaware of the danger.
People in some parts of the country continued not to go social, and the fight against wearing masks has become even more vocal and solid, the President, vice president and other elected officials refuse to model the behavior recommended by healthcare professionals: and stay 6 feet apart. For some time, governors of some states, including Arizona and Texas, even prevented local authorities from issuing mask powers in their cities and counties.
Is it too late?
As I have repeatedly said, this coronavirus is not durable and therefore small spoonfuls of medicine can go a long way. It doesn’t travel far, so staying 6 or 10 feet apart can help. It disperses quickly with good air circulation, so do not gather indoors. And wear a mask – this is a big mask. Studies have shown that it can reduce contamination to others while protecting the user. Even bandanas and paper surgical masks work better than nothing.
In fact, modelers at the University of Washington Health Metrics and Evaluation Institute say that if 95% of people wear masks, around 24,000 lives can be preserved by October.
If we can ensure that our patient adheres to these small steps (tried and true public health measures that have worked in places like South Korea), the number of daily infections can be slowly reduced to manageable levels. And then we can start the environmentalization efforts, such as contact tracking and isolating potentially infected people.
However, we are not at this stage yet and it is not possible to talk about containing the virus when there are 50,000 or even 10,000 new infections per day. To do this, we have to lose the country to one in a million people a day. More than 300 new infections this day – not 50,000.
And this brings me to another point: We need more tests, not less. Seeing how the patient does it is the only way to see if the infection has receded. Testing in many parts of the country is still difficult; test components are sometimes inadequate and results are slow to reach. And now that more people want to be tested, the test areas at some new hot spots are filled with long lines. This will further increase the waiting for the results, as laboratories continue to strain. We need mass access to a fast, easy, and inexpensive test that can result in minutes, not days, so testing can be done more easily and results can be returned quicker.
Everything will get worse before it gets better
Making mistakes will feel worse in the coming days until the patient begins to work, until he has the chance to do his job once again in public health measures. And the patient may still need aggressive treatment in some places – we can see that some parts of the country are partially closed.
In the spring, everyone made great personal and economic sacrifices while trying to straighten the curve. Nobody wants to lose this progress and no one wants to go back to coma again.
But now, it cannot be divided as a single nation and we must act with a guide voice. This would be a great birthday gift for our patient.
Andrea Kane contributed to this story.
Analyst. Amateur problem solver. Wannabe internet expert. Coffee geek. Tv guru. Award-winning communicator. Food nerd.