OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — As we all adjust our lives and look for answers as the coronavirus spreads, you may be wondering what doctors are telling their friends and families about it. Nebraska Medicine critical care anesthesiologist Dr. Daniel Johnson shared a personal letter he sent to people that mean the most to him about the matter.
The COVID-19 pandemic will be a challenge to the USA unlike any we have experienced in our lifetime. For the last several weeks, I have been involved in multiple meetings each day where I get to hear the thoughts of experts in the field of pandemics, specifically about this pandemic, and what we need to do.
If anyone hears from family or friends who think this is “no big deal,” or that the USA’s response has been excessive, please know that they are very wrong. I’m sure you have all read about the many reasons that this is NOT “just like flu.” The numbers of infected, worldwide and in the USA, are extreme underestimates (because many infected have not been tested). The best metric to use, right now, is talking with hospital workers in the hotbeds, and asking them what their situation is.
I have been in communication with a friend who is a critical care physician from the Lombardy region of Italy. The health care workers there are living in a nightmare, having to decide who lives and who dies from lack of oxygen because their health care system is overwhelmed.
In the USA, we have three pathways for COVID-19:
You have all probably seen the concept of “flatten the curve.” If we fail to flatten the curve, and we fail to eliminate the portion of yellow above that line, there will be dire consequences:
In the SARS-1 outbreak, critical care doctors and nurses in Asia and Canada acquired life-long PTSD from watching patients gasp for air and die because they did not have enough ventilators. SARS-1 was nothing compared to COVID-19. If we do not flatten the curve, Rachel, Bridget and I will have to witness many of these types of deaths.
In the absence of a vaccine or an anti-viral in the immediate future, our best chance to avoid overwhelming our hospitals is non-pharmaceutical interventions. The two best ways to do that are (1) social distancing, and (2) excellent hygiene.
Please check out these simulations from the Washington Post, and share this article.
The best ways for you to achieve social distancing are pretty simple:
I’m not saying people should not go to work. Just don’t leave the house for anything unnecessary, and if you can work from home, do it.
Everyone on this email, besides Mom and Dad, are at low risk for severe disease if/when they contract COVID-19. While this is great, that is not the main point. When young, well people fail to do social distancing and hygiene, they pick up the virus and transmit it to older people who are at higher risk for critical illness or death. So everyone needs to stay home. Even young people.
Tell every person over 60, and every person with significant medical conditions, to avoid being around people. Please do not have your kids visit their grandparents if you can avoid it. FaceTime them.
Our nation is the strongest one in the world. We have been through other extreme challenges and succeeded many times before. We WILL return to normal life. Please take these measures now to flatten the curve, so that we can avoid catastrophe.