Stay Safe & Stay Home – It’s Still the Best Decision

This past week the number of new Coronavirus cases in the state of Florida has dramatically increased. The percentage of patients having positive results and the number of patients showing up at the emergency rooms locally complaining of flu like symptoms has increased as well.

Due to a continued shortage of testing supplies, patients receive a nasopharyngeal swab and the test is sent out to the reference lab with results back in 48 to 72 hours. The number of hospital admissions with COVID-19 has increased dramatically in the last two weeks. The number of individuals requiring intensive care beds has increased while the availability of ICU beds has decreased. Some hospitals in Jacksonville and Sarasota have no current availability of critical care ICU beds.

Florida’s Governor says it is due to more people being tested so there are more positives. He initially blamed it on migrant farm workers of Hispanic descent but farmers and elected officials from farm districts pointed out they had left the state after harvesting crops weeks ago.

The increase is blamed on young people who will not require hospitalization or develop very many complications from COVID-19 say the elected officials. No need to order masks in public places in Palm Beach County according to the County Commissioners despite numerous studies saying facial coverings are an effective way to slow the spread of the disease. Epidemiologists and virologists from the University of Florida School of Medicine blame the surge on opening businesses too soon and lack of facial coverings as well as social distancing by those people going to restaurants, gyms, shopping and retail stores. The Director of Nursing at the University of Miami Jackson Memorial Program feels the same way as does an infectious disease expert at Florida International University in Miami.

Over the last three weeks I have read, re-read and studied numerous protocols and guidelines designed to safely reopen my small business establishment and internal medicine practice. We spent two weeks training the staff, rearranging traffic patterns, purchasing new equipment for protective purposes. We called our patients and started to bring them in slowly and in small numbers while reviewing and critiquing what we could be doing better to make sure our patients were well protected on the trip from their cars , up the front steps or ramp with a bannister, through a revolving door, into a common lobby and up an elevator to the second floor before reaching my office. It was going very well until the surge of new cases.

This is a very transmissible virus with newly contagious and minimally symptomatic individuals felt to infect 5.7 patients before they discover they are ill. As the surge reached day five on record new cases we met as an office, two experienced physicians, one experienced nurse manager, two medical assistants and one receptionist and decided it would be safest for our patients who were doing well to just stay home and delay a routine visit until the number of new cases and hospital cases declines again.

We phoned and used email as well to contact our patients and try to reschedule them. The negative blow back was both disheartening and surprising. “We need our blood work and are overdue for checking our cholesterol and sugars.” No, you are not. We were accused of being afraid of catching COVID-19.

With the protective gear we have and training and experience I believe seeing a patient in my office is far safer for me than entering and exiting my office building or walking my dog at dinner time. The concern is for my patients’ safety and health in an environment where many have been led by our elected public officials to believe the pandemic is over and scientists, doctors, epidemiologists are blowing COVID-19 out of proportion with the help of the media.

On a personal level these comments are hurtful and simply inappropriate. If younger asymptomatic people have the disease and are roaming the community without face coverings your trip to the supermarket, retail store, hospital emergency room is far more dangerous now then it was a month ago when potential COVID-19 patients were easy to spot and separate from those with other problems.

My hair cutting shop opened up two weeks ago when the Governor gave Palm Beach County an early opening even though the county had not met any of the minimal guidelines set by the Federal agencies including President Trump’s Coronavirus task force. When a client called in sick with COVID-19 two days after a haircut; the owner closed the shop, sanitized the facility and re-examined his protocols to protect his employees and customers. That shop is still closed with no imminent plans for opening

We still have no medical treatment for COVID-19. A vaccine is months away. There is promising news about blocking monoclonal antibodies. Self-distancing, hand washing, and facial coverings is all we have.

A recent article in a peer reviewed journal pointed out that people recovered from COVID-19 only had protective IgG antibodies for sixty to 90 days calling into question whether we ever can achieve “herd immunity” by keeping everything open and allowing the young less vulnerable to get sick, recover and develop antibodies.

How many more people must die in the name of economic well-being? How many people will get so ill that even if they recover the rehabilitation process will be so long and so partial that the price is too steep to pay?

I cannot say it enough – stay home, keep your distance and wear a facial covering in public. That is not an imposition on your civil rights. It’s being caring and compassionate for others.

One Response

  1. Indeed it is one of the best decision, to stay at home. As the pandemic is taking the lives of humans, it is becoming super difficult to go back to a normal routine. It’s way better to stay back and be safe. Keep posting more such amazing blogs.

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