First, some great news. I have not shared here that a good high school friend of S has been in the hospital with Covid–19 for over three weeks. He was in the ICU on a ventilator for over two of those weeks. Based on the updates we were getting, we think he was very close to death on at least two occasions. We know the hospital chaplain paid him a visit three Saturdays ago and believed that would be his final visit.
After this long battle, that included several moments of false hope, he has finally been doing better for the past week, getting steadily better each day. He came off the vent over the weekend. He ate real food Sunday. He sat upright in a chair for six hours Monday.
S has been getting updates from other classmates and his wife. This morning she got a text from the man himself, saying he was about to be discharged and sent home. Absolutely fantastic news! This is a great guy with a big family that has been through a lot already. His kids needed their dad to stick around, and we are so pleased that is the case.
He is the only person we are close to who has gotten this sick. We know of a few other folks who have been hospitalized, but none were in as dire a situation as him. We are hopeful he can fully recover and he is our last friend to go through this.
Now some quick not-so-good news. This week felt like we were beginning to turn a corner. Positive cases seemed to be plateauing in most areas. Although deaths lag behind those numbers and we still have several more weeks of horrific news on that front, the curve did seem to be flattening. Intelligent people realize this doesn’t mean the end is close, but at least we may be seeing the early stages of a positive trend.
What bummed me out, though, was reading several articles that focused on the summer and beyond. None of them were optimistic. There are real concerns about our medical supply chain. Beyond PPE and ventilators, we are seeing a significant dip in the availability of important medicines. There are issues getting medical equipment, supplies, and medicines out of China, India, and Italy. There are also worries about people with other chronic issues being forced to go several months without getting needed, regular, in-person interactions with their physicians.
There are some food supply chain concerns. Several processing plants have shut down because they are overrun with the virus. Delivery services are struggling in some areas to get food from processing to storage to location of sale. In some areas perishables are being trashed because they are spoiling before they can be distributed.
And then there’s the whole “What happens to the virus?” question. We are still in the very early days of this, and while there are dozens if not hundreds of studies in process, the experts can’t yet determine if people who are Covid–19 positive develop an immunity to it. They don’t know what the true infection rate. Combine those two details and you get to an idea of how soon we can get back to normal. If former positive patients develop immunity and the US infection rate is around 20%, we are on a path to recovery. If either we don’t develop immunity or the infection rate is much lower – many physicians think it is more in the 2–5% range – there is no way to get back to a normal economy and society until there’s an effective vaccine.
Although I knew the “good news” was fairly light, it still gave me a glimmer of hope after a month of shitty news. But these long term views, which stretch this crisis out much further than most people expected, was a real kick in the nads. There was always the late spike in the models that allowed for the curve being flattened. But these articles suggested the worst is still ahead of us, and I really wasn’t prepared to hear that right now.
The saving grace to all of this is that we are still so early in this, and know so little about the virus. When dealing with the unknown, in the midst of a crisis, I think scientists tend to default to scenarios that are closer to worst case than optimistic ones. I’m hopeful that the many incredibly smart people working on this will find unexpected ways to keep us safe and allow us to begin transitioning back to normalcy sooner than the darkest scenarios lay out.
I’ve said before in one of these messages that I’m working hard not to judge people who are handling the Covid–19 crisis differently than I am. There is enough pressure in the world without being a dick because you disagree with whether or not to wear masks, whether it was appropriate to shut down schools and businesses, and how long we need to remain in lockdown. We can certainly have those arguments later, when the stress level has come down significantly.
Still, I have a hard time when I scroll past posts of Facebook friends who are pushing back hard against the restrictions we are living under. There are just a few, but they are definitely in my feed, as I’m sure they are in yours. I realize many of them are doing so not because they are bored and restless, but rather because they face serious financial pressures because of the lockdown.
I’ve seen a couple throw out the “It’s no worse than the flu” or “It’s just a bad flu” argument. I want to rip my hair out when I see these posts. Especially since they are often couched as insightful statements based on hard facts despite all the data telling us the opposite.
I have not engaged any of these people. It’s not my place and, again, I don’t want to be a dick. The whole “Well my wife is a doctor and here’s what she says…” isn’t a great look right now. Plus S would probably kick my ass for drawing her into these conversations. She has enough stress of her own right now.
Being a passive aggressive person by nature, I did kind of want to post the chart and article I link to below with some snarky comment about it clearly NOT just being a bad flu. I decided I should not engage people, even passive aggressively.
But I will do it here on my personal blog that gets a handful of views every day, mostly from people who agree with me! Feel free to be more direct than me and post it to your social media feeds.
People who look at this and still say Covid–19 is overhyped are either purposefully being dicks or aren’t interested in getting into the truth of the numbers.