This coronavirus does not go away because it is being ignored by even the most powerful. We have now lost over 125,000 Americans to this viral scourge. The number of Americans diagnosed as infected is over 2.6 million. The CDC estimates that the actual number of Americans infected is ten times that number based on antibody testing. Unfortunately, the US has repetitively reached daily records as far as the number of Americans infected. Today, the diagnosed number was a record 43,122! Thirty-two of the 50 states are demonstrating rising case numbers, independent of still insufficient testing increases. Experts from the U. of Washington project that there will be 180,000 deaths by October. That number can be reduced by 33,000 if 95% of Americans will just wear masks! Other experts project a fatality number of 250,000 by the end of 2020. Although the northeast was the epicenter for the virus in March and April of this year, the south and west are responsible for the current dangerous and dramatic increases. Most of these areas that are driving the current resurgence chose to close-down their economies late and/or they reopened early without ever reaching the guidelines outlined by the CDC. Citizens in these areas have irresponsibly disregarded social distancing and the wearing of masks. The economic impact of this ongoing catastrophe is alarming as well. The age range of the people infected is still trending toward people younger than 45. They survive, but their parents and grandparents do not fare as well. Unemployment claims have reached between 47 and 50 million, with 1.5 million new claims this past week. The US gross domestic product (GDP) declined 5% in the 1st quarter and it is projected to be worse for the 2nd quarter. Managing this public health crisis which is responsible for health and economic difficulties requires focused leadership. The CDC is frequently providing guidance (CDC.gov). Unfortunately, our federal government leadership fails to follow those recommendations and minimizes the impact of the disease.
If you have been watching this space over the last two-plus months, you will say what follows sounds like a broken record, it is. We healthcare providers say that our country will manage COVID-19 by social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands, testing, contact tracing, isolation, and treatment while we await therapeutics and a vaccine. This message is not getting across and the impact of the virus is clearly becoming worse. We need social distancing, not political rallies that result in Whitehouse staff and over a dozen Secret Service agents having to quarantine, not to mention, a number yet to be known of infected attendees. Governors from several states have either slowed down or reversed the phases of reopening! We need everybody to wear their masks when in public according to the CDC and health experts on the Coronavirus taskforce. In regards to testing, Senators Cruz and Cornyn have objected to the Trump administration striping federal support from 13 testing centers across the USA. Fighting this pandemic requires testing that is multiples of our current levels. Contact tracing remains woefully inadequate and therefore we are not able to benefit from a proven tool which has been used to control and eliminate contagious diseases. Lastly, though we have learned a lot about treatment, our healthcare system is again becoming overwhelmed. Hospitalizations are up in multiple states and deaths will follow. In Houston, TX. , only 2 out of the usual 1300 ICU beds remain available, the Children’s’ Hospital is primed for admitting adult ICU patients, and all elective surgeries have been banded (also in 3 additional Texas counties). In the face of the dire need for health insurance the Trump administration just last night filed a brief to totally eliminate Obamacare. We are appalled at this effort which would eliminate pre-existing conditions coverage for EVERY American and result in 23 million people losing insurance coverage. It is extremely cruel that 500,000 of these have been added to the Obamacare roles as a result of employment loss due to this pandemic.
CoVID-19 is destroying our health and livelihood because too many people are following the administration’s message of denial. Our country is not getting the federally support which would allow successful state administration, and local execution of an actual plan. The public health policies that are essential to fighting this disease must be supported, not sabotaged by the top of the federal government.
Wear Your Mask, PLEASE!
Clyde E. Henderson, MD
Cincinnati Medical Association