Is it time to get back to “normal” ?

I know so many people are itching to get back out there, to get back to pre COVID-19 “normal.” But the truth is we are far from that possibility. At some point we will all, personally, be touched by this virus. 

Today, July 2, 2020 there have been 516,000 deaths reported worldwide from COVID-19.

FWIW I think in the end we will find that this is a significant underrepresentation of the numbers as it now appears that this virus was circulating for months before we caught wind of it. I bet anything that thousands of people in the US, or even tens of thousands who were thought to have died from pneumonia or stroke actually died of COVID-19 related pneumonia or stroke.

But let’s stick with reported numbers for now. In the US alone today total confirmed cases in the country have reached more than 2.7 million, with more than 130,000 deaths. 

And it’s not just old people or those with chronic illnesses who are falling prey to this virus.

I have a colleague who was the picture of health pre-COVID-19 and 3 months later she is still gasping for breath when she exerts herself.
I have a patient who has had a fever for three months.
And another who has completely lost her sense of taste and smell.
Three of my friends have lost a parent to COVID-19.

Please understand that just because people don’t die from it doesn’t mean they won’t have long term health repercussions from it. We need to figure out how to start reporting numbers regarding other statistics than dead or not dead. In our clinical practices my colleagues and I are starting to see cardiac and clotting issues, as well as an increase in autoimmune diagnoses in young healthy people who had very mild symptoms early on. The truth is we know very little at this point, still. The best thing we can do is listen to the scientists who have been studying virology and epidemiology for decades. And what they are saying is that we are not out of the woods yet. By far.

So now what? Do we follow the guidelines being offered by each state?

What about those of us who feel our rights are being impinged upon when it is mandated to stay 6 feet away from people, or to wear a mask?

What about those of us who think the concerns about COVID-19 are being exaggerated? Or those who say ‘well my family isn’t at high risk so I’m not worried about it’ (I had a 22-year-old patient tell me this the other day).

I’m not in any of these camps FWIW but I know people who are. And to these people I’ll say this:

What if you decide that it’s not about you?

This may be naïve but I want to believe that we all want to be kind. To make a difference. To help. And if masking and social distancing turns out to not make a difference (this is almost impossible but let’s just say that’s the case) then the worst thing that has happened is that you’ve made an effort to help and it didn’t work. By wearing masks to make an effort to protect others, and by practicing social distancing, we are taking care of our neighbors and our friends. Our families, and our communities. And of course the health care workers on the front lines.

We are all in this together.

My next post will be about what kind of masks are available and what’s on the horizon…let me know if you have any other questions that I can answer.

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