“..buy an oximeter, and good luck.”
I know that everyone is as sick of hearing about COVID as I am of writing about it (and I gave up on regular COVID posts sometime last year). That’s one reason I strongly endorse stellar physician and storytelling champ Robin Schoenthaler’s high-quality and impactful COVID missives. (And seriously, she won The Moth Grand StorySlam.) I was especially moved by this powerful post, where she mostly features other doctor’s words as they describe their own personal COVID hells (and the title is from one demoralized FP’s repeated response to anxious, unvaccinated, COVID+ patients).
All over the country, there are not enough healthcare workers of any kind, because so many have COVID, or are exhausted, or are quitting, or all three. COVID treatments have run out or are being carefully rationed, and in this state, no one can get ahold of the only Omicron- effective monoclonal antibodies— not even for the immunocompromised. And all the regular, non-COVID illnesses and emergencies that are still coming in– the “I decided to shovel the driveway” chest pain and “I tried to drive in this snow” car accident and “I slipped on the ice” hip fracture, et cetera, endless et cetera– are screwed. They’re screwed because all the hallways are lined with COVID patients on oxygen, all the hospital rooms and ICUs are full of COVID patients, even many who are stable and ready for discharge, because their nursing home/ rehab/ group home/ home home is in the midst of its own COVID outbreak.
What does this reflect? Let me show you. Here is one of my favorite sources of COVID data– the source that can predict a surge by a week, that is a better estimator of actual positive cases than test results– The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority wastewater viral RNA levels:
This may look familiar. In a December 2020 post titled Oh Sh*t, I featured a similar graph, and it looked similarly scary:
But if you look at the Y axes on these, you see that December’s goes to 2500 RNA copies/ ml, and now’s goes to 25,000 RNA copies/ ml. That’s a tenfold increase in the scale of the graph. The running joke is that we’ve finally flattened the curve– but against the wrong axis.
All the other “now” graphs are similarly scary. The COVID ACT NOW case numbers graph also had to be adjusted up tenfold since last year, and that’s even with it missing a huge number of home-test positives. Regardless, we’ve been at “EXTREME” levels for weeks, and that line is not leveling off, at all. And that is the point that is really important to consider, that the Cases line still pointing straight UP:
Sooo the line is pointing UP. Cases are still going up. And this is the really scary data: we’re already using up 86% of our available ICU beds:
I know that people are saying Omicron isn’t as bad as the usual COVID, people tend not to get that sick. But, some people do, especially kids. And we’re using up 86% of our available ICU beds already. And that #Cases line is not leveling off.
I also know that people are saying you’re less likely to die of Omicron. But, people are still dying, and we know that the deaths curve lags 2-3 weeks behind the Cases curve. And that Cases line is not leveling off. So, this Deaths line is likely to keep going up and up as well:
What can we do about this? It’s simple. Don’t get COVID, and don’t spread COVID. If you can avoid eating and drinking around people outside of your bubble, do that. If you can get vaccinated, wear a mask, wash your hands– do those things. These are the things that work. Also, get your news from a real and reliable news source. And, consider signing this State of Emergency petition to free up additional resources for suffering MA healthcare workers. And, read Dr. Schoenthaler’s post. And, consider these additional testimonials:
And… buy an oximeter, and Good Luck.