This is For Reals, People

Ever since getting back from SHOT I’ve been writing articles about the Corona virus that are cautionary but a tad joking. The joking is now over. I am dead serious here when I say,

STAY THE F*$% HOME 

Unless you have a mission critical job that requires you to be out and about, you need to isolate yourselves and your families. The more people who catch this virus, the more likely that we will have a healthcare crisis in this country and people literally dying in the hallways of our hospitals – like Italy.

You know how in defensive classes they talk about Normalcy Bias? How you hesitate because you can’t believe this is happening? Did that guy really just pull a gun on me? You know how they talk about how important it is to overcome that? It is critical that you do not succumb to normalcy bias now, either. Take action NOW.

There are some memes floating around that hint at the seriousness of the situation – implying that if you don’t stay home you might end up with an ob/gyn doing your intubation and ventilator settings, or an ophthalmologist treating your pneumonia. They are joking, but they are also dead serious.

I have been asked multiple times by multiple people if this is overblown. Let me assure you that it is not. While I do not work for the CDC, I have a Master of Public Health degree in addition to my MD, and studying infectious disease and epidemiology was part of my training.

This numbers game is real. There are only so many ICU beds and ventilators in the country. Even if that can be flexed up, there are still only so many ICU nurses with specialized skills, only so many respiratory therapists, and only so many doctors who are specialized in critical care medicine to go around. (See the above meme)

Even if the Army and National Guard is mobilized, many of those folks are already working their butts off in civilian hospitals. Pulling them to go work their butts off in Camo somewhere else does not help.

Add to that the fact that healthcare workers get sick too. It’s not like flu season where the health workers are vaccinated against what they’re treating. We are just as at risk as everyone else, and even more so because of continued exposure.

If/when healthcare workers catch the virus, the available caregiver workforce is reduced even further. So those numbers are reduced just as virus cases are increasing. Do the math. 

Even in my own private practice office we are looking at the real possibility of having the entire office closed and quarantined for weeks at minimum if we doctors or any of our office staff become ill. Then we can’t serve the community at all. Subtract even more healthcare from the equation.

Add to that the fact that ER doc friends are already saying that they don’t have enough N95 masks to protect themselves and are reduced to trying to bleach and reuse a disposable product.

Please do NOT rely on the fact that you yourself may be young and healthy and low risk. You can still give the virus to someone’s grandmother, someone’s spouse,  or a mission critical other person who the country needs right now.

Please take this seriously.

Follow the directions from your state and local health departments.

Flatten the curve. Do it NOW – before the spread becomes exponential.

Stay home except for critical activities like food or medicine.

Work from home if at all possible. If you are out of work, try to find something productive to do to serve the community from home.

Check on your neighbors – like the older couple next door.

WASH. YOUR. HANDS.

Settle in for the long haul, because it doesn’t look like this is going to be over in a month. I’ll be back to my usual snarky shelf soon, but this has been a very stressful week and I wanted to impress upon everyone how important and serious this all is.

Live Long and Prosper.