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Why the Public & Healthcare Response to COVID-19 Has Me Fuming

Posted by Greg Jacobson

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Mar 17, 2020 5:49:04 PM

shutterstock_1025329771Today I wanted to share with you a message that I just got from my friend, a pediatrician.

"It’s time to ‘name and shame’ the people who are putting others at risk. Name and shame the businesses that are hosting public events. Name and shame those who attend them. Leaving the house right now is like driving drunk through a school zone of old people. You will kill someone, but in this case, you won’t even realize it.

In this time of crisis, we have an ethical duty and responsibility to stay home and stay physically distant. Every day you choose to run an errand, go out to dinner, or meet up for a playdate with your stir-crazy kids, you are contributing to the exponential spread of this virus. Every day, every hour, every minute that it spreads, real people will die.

Check out this blog post about what exponential growth means and why you should care.

The thing about exponential growth is that it’s not exciting, until it is. 

The growth rate looks slow at first. 

You don’t know anyone with the virus. 

You don’t know anyone who knows anyone with it.

It feels like a far-way problem - that’s someone else’s problem. 

But as the curve picks up steam and increases exponentially each day, it’s just a matter of time before this explodes into an outbreak that’s in all of our communities, in all of our neighborhoods.

The only way to stop this is to stop it NOW, while the growth is still relatively slow, before it’s at its worst. The spread of this virus is like a train - the faster it goes, the longer it’s going to take to stop it. 

And here’s the problem with this virus: it’s super contagious, and there’s a really long time where you’re contagious but you don’t have any symptoms. And it gets worse than that - sometimes you’ll get the virus and have absolutely no symptoms, so you’ll never know that you were spreading it to people. That means that you’ll feel just fine, and still be walking around your community infecting people left and right.

The way the math works, once people stop interacting with each other - like in a mandatory lockdown - it’ll take approximately twelve days before we know just how far the virus spread, indicated by a decrease in the daily number of new cases. We know this because this delay is exactly what we saw happen in China after their mandatory lockdown, and is what’s now happening in Italy as I write this.

I would like to make an appeal for our healthcare institutions to proactively create and enact plans TODAY, not tomorrow, to help stop the spread. For example:

  • ERs need to immediately stop allowing symptomatic patients to come inside to check-in. Triage must be done outside of the facility by medical personnel wearing appropriate safety equipment.

  • ERs need clear signage instructing patients on where to go for drive-through or off-site testing, and to not allow those desiring tests to enter the building.

  • Hospitals need to start planning for the inevitable safety equipment shortage that’s about to occur.

  • Healthcare systems need to give clear, concise, and frequent recommendations for their different kinds of healthcare providers. For instance, Emergency Departments need one set of recommendations, while clinical settings and inpatient settings need differing sets. These recommendations need to be updated daily as the situation evolves.

  • The CDC needs to communicate more clearly and frequently with regular people. I’ve had a hard time making heads or tails of what the current CDC recommendations are, and... I’m a doctor.

  • We need to stop all elective procedures NOW. Have an elective medical procedure or office visit tomorrow at 7am? Cancel it.

    We can never forget that we as physicians have taken an oath to “Do No Harm.” By definition, elective procedures could be rescheduled - and there’s irrefutable evidence that continuing normal social contact WILL do harm.

    If you have any elective medical procedure or office visit coming up, or are a physician still performing them, PLEASE transition to telephone interactions and cancel all in-person appointments. 

I urge you all to please take some time tonight to contact everyone you can, and ask them to take physical distancing seriously. The best way to communicate these ideas is to have personal conversations with as many people as you can to help influence and change their behavior. Contact your gym, your library, your doctors’ offices, your dentist, your children’s enrichment facilities - and ask them to close in the name of public safety. 

Have questions about COVID-19?

Sign up for our Ask Us Anything webinar tomorrow to ask a panel of three doctors all your COVID-19 questions!

Ask Us Anything!

March 18 from 2:00 - 3:00 ET

We know these are uncertain times, and everyone has questions about how to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19). It's hard to know what information to trust with opinions floating all over the internet.

We're lucky here at KaiNexus because our CEO is an Emergency Medicine Physician, and he's been working hard to keep us all safe and informed.

We're extending that same advantage to you by offering this Ask Us Anything webinar, in which we'll have a panel of three physicians ready to answer your questions. 

Meet The Panelists:

Dr. Mason W. MileurDr. Mason W. Mileur

Dr. Mason W. Mileur is an internist in Austin, Texas. He is affiliated with St. David's Medical Center. He received his medical degree from University of Texas Medical School and has been in practice nearly 10 years.


Whitney MorganDr. Whitney Morgan

Dr. Whitney Morgan is a pediatrician in Seguin, Texas and has been practicing for over 13 years. She earned her M.D. with honors from Texas A&M College of Medicine, and completed her pediatrics and adolescent medicine residency in Greenville, SC.

Greg JacobsonGreg Jacobson

Dr. Greg Jacobson is an emergency medicine physician in Austin, Texas and has been practicing for over twenty years. He is also the Chief Executive Officer at KaiNexus. He received his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine.

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