Although I’ve done my best to avoid social media, I feel it is imperative that I share my views to start as much of a movement of social responsibility as possible.
I’m a practicing physician at two major hospitals in Denver. I’ve had a very close look at how things have been handled thus far. Unfortunately, the only thing we can do to contain the virus and reduce the mortality of the virus is to avoid public interactions. Let me try and summarize the reasons why.
Think of how an online post goes “viral.” One person posts, sends it to 10 people, those 10 people send it to 10 people, those 100 people send it to 10 people, and in a very short time 1000 people have seen the post; this is exponential spread. The same applies with COVID-19. Right now the virus is multiplying by 10 every 16 days. If we don’t change our behavior, this rate will continue until people start getting immunity by already having had the disease. But by that point, many people will have died unnecessarily.
Right now there are roughly 1500 positive test results in the U.S. As a result of severely undertesting, and very slow turnaround of the test (in CO its 3-5 days at the moment) my conservative opinion is that the true number of infected people may be closer to 10,000 (it could be much greater). Using the formula of 10x every 16 days, this means that 100,000 people will be infected in 16 days, 1 million people in a month, 10 million people in the next 6 weeks. Granted, at some point that 10x every 16 days will decrease as the disease runs through our population and people get immunity, but far too many people will have fallen victim to the virus by then.
The reason why we need to avoid indoor public gatherings is not only to protect us, and our immediate family, and the people we might infect directly, but it’s also to reduce the rate of spread in our country. If everyone does their part, maybe that 10x every 16 days can change to 10x every 60 days or even better. However, like many others, you might be wondering why it’s so important to slow down the rate of transmission.
One answer is that we can buy time for either a vaccine or a cure. But even more importantly, if we can slow down the rate of transmission, it’s much more likely that the necessary ICU beds/ventilators/staff will be available for critically ill patients with COVID-19 as well as for non-infected critically ill patients. If 1 million people get the disease in the next weeks, that’s an incredibly different scenario than if 1 million people get it over the next 6 months. ICUs are at near capacity on any given day prior to the emergence of COVID-19. Imagine what would happen with this rapid influx in the next 6 weeks. Many people whose lives could be saved under normal circumstances won’t be, purely because of lack of ICU beds/ventilators/staff. The best thing we can do as citizens is to severely restrict all indoor social interactions.
I am going to try to do my part by avoiding as many indoor public places as possible, starting today. Again, this is not just for my health or my family’s health as much as it is doing the right thing for our country at large. I ask that everyone reading this do their best to do the same.
Please pass this message along to as many people as possible. Let’s all do our part.