The Silver Lining of Coronavirus Resurgence
As my readers may have noticed, despite so much happening in our nation in 2020, I took a hiatus from blogging. The truth is, blogging is my hobby, born of a love of writing and having been a life long student of history, social science, and politics. My actual job that pays my bills is being a medical doctor, specifically, a general practitioner. As you may imagine, I have been busy.
Having been in the middle of this pandemic and seen the reality of it in the trenches, I am rather dismayed by the way COVID-19 has been presented in the media, and most abysmally, by our elected leadership at all levels. If one falls on the left side of political leaning, novel coronavirus is a death sentence the likes of which humanity has not seen since the Black Plague and the only way to face it is a 12 Monkeys style subterranean existence, forgoing life as we know it (my movie reference here betrays my age). If one is on the right side of the political spectrum, coronavirus is little more than a little cold and all the hype about it is a poorly veiled conspiracy to chip discredit Donald Trump. Neither are even remotely correct! Truth be told, there is legitimate reason for concern, but there are also reasons to be hopeful.
As you read on, please try to leave your own political dogma behind and digest what I write with an open mind. Understand that as a doctor, I have my own expertise in the field of infectious disease management and epidemiology, so I am not reliant on getting my information spoon fed to me by some partisan news outlet with an agenda.
By all medical opinion and protocol, we never realistically thought we would wipe out a contagious viral disease with shelter at home strategy. Anyone who was led to believe that was in for colossal disappointment. This is a tiny virus that will run its course through the human population and the notion that we can make it go away by staying inside is preposterous.
The purpose of shelter in place was to slow the rate of new infections to keep our grossly unprepared medical infrastructure from being overrun, and to allow our diagnostic capabilities to play catch up and adequately increase the scope of testing for people presenting with hallmark symptoms. As a doctor in a major city, I can tell you unequivocally that we achieved that objective.
With the phased reopening, we are indeed seeing a spike in new cases, hitting new records each day. The media is quite pleased to remind us of it every second if each and every day (especially since protests and riots are now old news). What the media seems all too reserved to report is that despite the surges in cases nationally, the death tally from COVID-19 has reduced by more than 50%.
The reason for the upsurge in cases is attributed mostly to the 18-35 year old demographic, a population that, in addition to being generally resistant to the serious consequences of COVID-19, are also the age range most active in protests and social gathering at bars, resorts, beaches, etc. (as well as throwing caution to the wind as youth will inevitably do).
This is actually exceedingly important. Although it has not been their actual mission, we can consider that Generation Z and Millennials are “taking one for the team.” In their zeal to get back to normal, they are facilitating what we call in medicine, “herd immunity,” that is, general resistance to pestilence via majority of the population being either vaccinated or having recovered from the actual virus.
Since vaccination is a long way away, herd immunity is our best answer, while still taking care to see to our most vulnerable are minimally exposed. Sheltering in place for the rest of the majority of the population, shutting down the economy and stopping sporting events and shows and life in general as we know it is not the answer.
We have identified and educated about the most vulnerable of our society to complication attributable to coronavirus. Stay at home unless you need to leave the home for necessities! N95 masks are now in mass production and available, wear them when having to be in a crowded environment.
For everyone else:
For places that high risk people must necessarily go – doctor office, pharmacy, grocery store, etc., all should wear masks. It is not a sign that we are scared people! I wear a mask daily in surgery to protect the patient from my germs NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND!
Bars, resorts, restaurants? With the death rate going down despite the severely disproportionate uptick in cases recently, let them stay open. These are elective areas where people have nothing but CHOICE. Let them continue to take one for the team, since most of this group seems to weather the virus quite well…and keep getting closer to that herd immunity we so badly need.