A little perspective about the coronavirus

March 13, 2020

Opinion by Christina Higgins

I am writing to you from Bergamo, Italy, at the heart of the coronavirus crisis. The news media in the United States has not captured the severity of what is happening here.

I am writing this post because each of you, today, not the government, not the school district, not the mayor, each individual citizen has the chance, today to take actions that will deter the Italian situation from becoming your own country’s reality. The only way to stop this virus is to limit contagion. And the only way to limit contagion is for millions of people to change their behavior today.

If you are in Europe or the United States you are weeks away from where we are today in Italy.

I can hear you now. “It’s just a flu. It only affects old people with preconditions”

There are two reasons why coronavirus has brought Italy to it’s knees. First it is a flu is devastating when people get really sick they need weeks of ICU – and, second, because of how fast and effectively it spreads. There is two week incubation period and many who have it never show symptoms.

When Prime Minister Conte announced last night that the entire country, 60 million people, would go on lock down, the line that struck me most was “there is no more time.” Because to be clear, this national lock down, is a hail Mary. What he means is that if the numbers of contagion do not start to go down, the system, Italy, will collapse.

Why? Today the ICUs in Lombardy are at capacity – more than capacity. They have begun to put ICU units in the hallways. If the numbers do not go down, the growth rate of contagion tells us that there will be thousands of people who in a matter of a week? Two weeks? Who will need care? What will happen when there are 100, or a 1000 people who need the hospital and only a few ICU places left?

On Monday, a doctor wrote in the paper that they have begun to have to decide who lives and who dies when the patients show up in the emergency room, like what is done in war. This will only get worse.

There are a finite number of doctors, nurses, medical staff and they are getting the virus. They have also been working non-stop, non-stop for days and days. What happens when the doctors, nurses and medical staff are simply not able to care for the patients, when they are not there?

And finally for those who say that this is just something that happens to old people, starting yesterday the hospitals are reporting that younger and younger patients – 40, 45, 18, are coming in for treatment.

You have a chance to make a difference and stop the spread in your country. Push for the entire office to work at home today, cancel birthday parties, and other gatherings, stay home as much as you can. If you have a fever, any fever, stay home. Push for school closures, now. Anything you can do to stop the spread, because it is spreading in your communities – there is a two week incubation period – and if you do these things now you can buy your medical system time.

And for those who say it is not possible to close the schools, and do all these other things, locking down Italy was beyond anyone’s imagination a week ago.

Soon you will not have a choice, so do what you can now.


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CentralcoastRN

An examination of Public Health and Epidemiology throughout history shows the same factors done by the Public can slow the spread of illness: 1. Hygiene/sanitation, 2. Social Distancing, 3. Hydration, 4. Healthy eating/other healthy habits, 5. Staying away from others when sick in a room with a window or ability to ventilate.


Panicking is not useful. We need to be thoughtful about how we utilize our resources.


Take care!


mazin

I sincerely hope when this thing hits, the Republicans on this board, rethink their support for Trump. He is not responsible for the virus but is culpable for the inadequacy and lack of timeliness of the response. He is an ineffective President.


PolyInsider

The Trump administration’s response to this has been far, far superior to the Obama administration’s response to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. This is a fact. You can try to politicize it all you want, but the US will likely end this in much better shape than the rest of the western world, largely thanks to the rapid response by the administration in shutting down travel from China and now from Europe. We will still see a lot more cases, but with the school and event shutdowns starting now, we should see it start to slow down in about two weeks.


mazin

Thank you for this article. I have been trying to convince others in my family to prepare for semi-isolation. Take care and God bless!


analyticone

So…forget about the numbers…what harm is there in simply being careful and considerate of your health and that of your neighbors? Just do it.


shelworth

Some more prospective, 2009/2010 60.8 million cases (range: 43.3-89.3 million), 274,304 hospitalizations (195,086-402,719), and 12,469 deaths (8868-18,306) occurred in the United States due to pH1N1 aka; “Swine Flu”. Do you even remember it?


Ricky2

Thank you for printing this. It exposes the harsh realities we face. Dealing with this health emergency is only made more difficult by the smug denial attitudes that are illustrated all around us and even in some of the comments on this page. This is serious folks, and we’re all in it together. Let’s all do what we need to do.


panflash

Well, perhaps this may be worth repeating at this point now:


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_you_live_in_interesting_times


Indeed.


mazin

Think this is interesting from a historical perspective but criticizing the Chinese people is criticizing victims.


Slosum

A little perspective about the Corona virus in the USA: Annual highway deaths: 37K. Annual drug deaths: 75K. Citizens over 62: Several million. Swine flu 2009: 12K. Get a grip. Hint: Toilet paper won’t save you. Common sense will.


MrYan

How’s does unrelated figures on death rates put anything into perspective?


Comparing an apple to an orange is the perspective you offer. It adds very little to the conversation.


If 55 million people suffer from this, like any other flu season, and the operational death rate is 1% as reported then you will have some real numbers to compare.


Italy rate of death is closer to 5%.


550,000 deaths is optimistic at this point. Which is more than all the events you total up to distract us.


i have not heard or seen a single health professional get on TV and say that the mortality rate for this is on par with a normal flu. Which is 1.3 per thousand. But you go out of your way to infer this is the case.


I would get a “grip” if they were saying this is on par with a normal flu. They are not.


As soon as there are more patients than beds (or really respirators) then we are in trouble. That is how we jump from 1% to 5%.


The writer was giving us perspective. Needed perspective; and from an informed position. You were not.


tomsquawk

One might start by looking at what some other countries are doing, say, Canada & Singapore, It looks like CA is doing similar things. The issue seems to be reagents for test kits……from where do we get those?


Ricky2

And Taiwan. Excellent public health approach held down cases even with daily flights from Wuhan for months.