Y’all. 2020 isn’t over (nor is the pandemic). And 2021 is going to have a really bad start…
Just because we have a vaccine in the infancy of being distributed does not mean we are even remotely close to this being over.
I have been following our local numbers since March. I remember when we got worried about having 1 floor of patients with covid and a few in the ICU. I remember being impressed when we maintained double digits of covid patients and still being worried.
We now have 7 additional ICU beds since then and are still full. Half of our ICU is filled with COVID. (Do you know what critical care entails? Oxygen administered at “toxic” doses, ventilators, blood pressure medications to maintain blood flow to vital organs, organ failure. It is the most resource intensive area of the hospital requiring extra training on everyone’s part—nurses, respiratory therapists, physicians. Every patient has something indicating they are nearer to death than the rest of those in the hospital.)
We have >25% of inpatients who are positive for COVID. More than 60 patients in our hospital that usually houses 215 patients.
40 of those with COVID have been admitted since Christmas morning. 36 of them are over 80. 6 of them are less than 50. Last month, we lost a handful of people in their 40s to COVID.
We are tired. Our colleagues are sick and fatigued and are still fighting this fight. We are losing our breath fighting two fronts—the disease and the part of the public that doesn’t care.
If I could guess, next FALL will start to feel normal ONLY if >65% of our population chooses to get vaccinated. As a reminder: the vaccine is NOT mandated, it is voluntary. It has very few side effects and has been studied robustly for efficacy and safety. Over 70,000 people have been included in trials for the vaccines we currently have available. mRNA vaccines have been studied for over a decade. Coronavirus has been studied in labs for a decade as well. It’s amazing what happens when bureaucratic red tape is removed and science is allowed to work and communicate quickly. Also, good news is that the vaccines available should still be efficacious against the new strains of COVID we are seeing out of the UK and elsewhere.
PLEASE stay vigilant. Just because healthcare workers and some of the elderly are getting vaccinated does not mean that hospitals won’t be overwhelmed. It does not mean that we have significantly better treatment—honestly, we know more about what does NOT work than what does. Our mortality rates are lower, but all-cause mortality increases when we don’t have the appropriate resources—including personnel and time.
If you get a COVID test—even for screening—stay home until you get the results. Otherwise, you nullify your test and/or risk exposing anyone you’ve seen between your test and the news of a positive result.
Order takeout, even alcohol can be delivered these days. Limit your contacts outside of your household. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Eat healthy. Take a multivitamin. Get plenty of sleep. Get some fresh air. Open the windows. Each of those things matters. None of them will be the “cure all” by itself. Stop listening to what justifies your behaviors and take personal responsibility for yourself, for your family, for your friends. Stop listening to politicians over epidemiologists, scientists, and physicians who signed up to save lives, find cures, and limit spread of disease. The best time to STOP politicizing a pandemic was 11 months ago, the second best time is NOW. Start thinking about how precious life itself is, that we are lucky to have woken up another day, and that no amount of money will change that.
Also, if you DO choose to get together, quarantine a week before and a week after (i.e. don’t spend time with people outside of your household more than once every 7-10 days).