Let me start by saying this is not a political statement or fear-mongering – I fully recognize some will read this as one – But, it’s not. It’s science and reality. I’ve hesitated in posting about this for a few days now – but believing that things regarding COVID-19 are looking better or this was inevitable has real-life implications. The more we come to terms with reality and take this seriously, the better we can weather what’s to come in the next few months and hopefully pivot to respond according to reality, not the false narrative. We can chew gum and walk at the same time.
Accepting that something can actually be done is the first step. Acknowledging the truth about what has happened will help us accept that.
𝐀 𝐟𝐞𝐰 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐬:
𝟏. 𝐈𝐭’𝐬 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐚 𝐟𝐥𝐚𝐬𝐡 𝐟𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐝: Web-friends, this is exhausting. I know you feel it too. It’s beyond frustrating as a public health person to watch all of this unfold.
𝐈𝐭 𝐟𝐞𝐞𝐥𝐬 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐚 𝐟𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐝 – 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐰𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞 𝐛𝐨𝐚𝐭𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞 𝐯𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐚 𝐥𝐚𝐫𝐠𝐞 𝐝𝐚𝐦 𝐰𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐜𝐥𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐥𝐨𝐰 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐝𝐨𝐰𝐧𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐦 – 𝐛𝐮𝐭, 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐛𝐞𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐯𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐝 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐛𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐯𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐝. The life boats/vests and the dams are not full lockdowns – they are simple tried-and-true public health measures of masks and distancing and limiting interactions. They include simple testing and contact tracing strategies. They are not hard and complicated. We just aren’t doing it in a national, coordinated manner and have not from the beginning.
𝟐. 𝐂𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐚𝐧𝐲𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐝𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐝𝐢𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐥𝐲? 𝐀 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐲𝐞𝐬! Again, I’m not talking about lockdowns and no one is anymore. I will link to a post I’ve already done about that. Don’t believe the false narrative that all of this was inevitable. It wasn’t. 𝐎𝐮𝐫 𝐠𝐨𝐚𝐥 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐧𝐨𝐭 “𝐳𝐞𝐫𝐨 𝐜𝐚𝐬𝐞𝐬” 𝐛𝐞𝐜𝐚𝐮𝐬𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭’𝐬 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐚𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐞𝐯𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐞. 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐠𝐨𝐚𝐥 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐨𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐝 𝐬𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐧 𝐰𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐬𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐳𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐬 𝐰𝐞 𝐬𝐞𝐞 𝐧𝐨𝐰. 𝐈𝐭’𝐬 𝐬𝐦𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐨𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐥𝐨𝐰 𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐧 𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐥𝐚𝐫𝐠𝐞 𝐟𝐥𝐚𝐬𝐡 𝐟𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐝. Do you feel like the goal posts keep changing? It’s because the game keeps changing.
𝟑. 𝐀𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐬 𝐠𝐞𝐭𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐛𝐞𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫? 𝐍𝐨. Nearly 40 states have rising cases, positivity rates, and hospitalizations. You see hospitals being packed, field hospitals going up in Wisconsin and my state of Texas. I know several personal friends who needed to go to the hospital because they were really sick with COVID-19 or needed cancer treatments or heart procedures. Both were turned away because the hospitals were full. Both are still in need of care. I bet you know these stories too or are living it.
Let me show you in a few pictures:
-Picture 1: One state (read that again – one) is trending in the right direction. The others are fully in red (with the exception of 2 in yellow).
-Picture 2: Cases are now higher than they were in July and have increased 40% in the past 2 weeks. Cases matter even in younger, healthy folks (see sources).
-Picture 2: Deaths have also increased by 13% in the past 2 weeks.
-Picture 3: We are better at treating people so the deaths are not as bad as they were early in the pandemic. But the excess deaths above what is normally seen in a year is still very, very high.
-Picture 4: Hospitalizations are going up in 36 states and are trending up consistently in the US.
𝟒. 𝐈 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐮𝐬𝐮𝐚𝐥 𝐟𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐥𝐲-𝐧𝐞𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐛𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐨𝐧𝐞. I’m asking like other scientists, ER docs, and ICU nurses to just take this seriously – many of you are are – I hear you. We can still do something about it and prevent close to 100,000 deaths by February by taking this seriously. (See sources below for strategies on that.)
𝐋𝐞𝐭’𝐬 𝐠𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐮𝐧𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐞𝐬 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞 𝐯𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐬, 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞 𝐛𝐨𝐚𝐭𝐬, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐜𝐥𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐝𝐚𝐦𝐬. 𝐈𝐭’𝐬 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐚𝐛𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐭𝐨 𝐝𝐨 𝐬𝐨.
For those of you already taking this seriously, I know you are exhausted and many are scared. I get that. I’m working with several of my mental-health colleagues on a few posts for us to help get us through this winter. This week, I’ll post the first in a series of posts of what the goal looks like and outline a “tool-kit” to get through the next few months.
This is not forever, web-friends. This time next year, I am confident things will look different with new treatments and vaccines on the horizon. Hang in there!
-Friendly neighbor epidemiologist
Picture 1 – https://www.covidexitstrategy.org/
Picture 3- Excess deaths: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/05/05/us/coronavirus-death-toll-us.html
Picture 4 – Hospitalizations: https://covidtracking.com/data/charts/us-currently-hospitalized
Be careful about the false narrative – 8 myths debunked include 99% recover, hospitalizations are going down, test numbers are being inflated, this took us by surprise. https://tinyurl.com/y64klldr
Could things have looked different? https://tinyurl.com/yxz5agl2
100,000 deaths prevented: https://covid19.healthdata.org/united-states-of-america?view=total-deaths&tab=tr
Why we need to pay attention to new cases, not just hospitalizations – https://tinyurl.com/yy68bsg2