Covid-19 Missive Two, March 11th

This is Robin Schoenthaler, the cancer doc who is posting about Covid. Events are picking up speed.

I am posting not out of panic, but out of a resigned perspective as I look at how we are going to have to live our radically changed lives for the next while.

To see our near future, look to Seattle and Northern California. To see our future in about a month, look to Italy.

The same statistics are holding up: COVID-19 is very contagious and most people catch it (maybe 70%) and most people have mild cases (80%). But for the 20% who get severe cases, it’s very severe indeed, with most requiring long hospital stays for bad pneumonias. And 5% of people with Covid need ICUs and often breathing machines (ventilators). And this sudden influx of seriously ill patients simply overruns the health care system and there aren’t enough beds or nurses or janitors or ventilators.

We all have the same lungs and blood and immune systems. There is no reason to think that things will be any different in Boston than they are in Italy or China or Seattle. Our hospital systems will be equally overwhelmed, “ventilators will become like gold,” and it’s impossible to imagine that rationing of life-saving care won’t occur.

Our only prayer is social distancing. I implore all of us to stop going to big events and cancel all your own events. Work from home if you can. Wash your hands and everything around you. And older people and people with major medical problems (esp lung and heart): stay home for the duration.

The science has not yet caught up and so the government isn’t telling you to socially distance yet, but it will come and in the meantime do everything you can to minimize your chances of getting this.

Again this is not panic. This is resigned calm with a plan.

Thank you.