February 22, 2021

Half a million

Today was a grim milestone for the US, with our total of confirmed deaths from COVID-19 passing 500,000. It did not really need to be be this way, millions are mourning, others suffering economic hardship. Other countries have suffered too, some more than others. Overall, the life expectancy in the US has dropped by one full year for all, but even more for African Americans, Hispanics and other people of color. The biggest loss is with African Americans who were particularly hard hit by the pandemic. COVID-19 shined the light on disparities in health and health care in the US. A variety of reasons have been identified, not the least of which is being an essential worker in a low paying job which increased exposure risk.

But in the past few days, data regarding new infections and new hospitalizations are very promising, not just in the US but in other countries as well. Cases are dropping and bringing hope and respite to previously over full ICU’s. Reasons are probably multifactorial, from people who haven’t been infected yet continuing their good self care with masking and distancing. Vaccines might be helping, and even herd immunity may be affecting those hardest hit communities, where more were probably infected than documented. The truth is no one knows why, probably multiple reasons, which leaves experts worried that there could be 4th wave, reminding us not to celebrate too soon by giving up our good practices and increasing transmissions. Even in countries with the variants, cases seem to be dropping.

This unexpected news brings hope. The IHME (Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation), which I wrote about on 2/19 (3 days ago!) has dropped their estimate of deaths by June 1, 2021 from 614,000 to 589,000.

At times it felt like the anti maskers were the loudest and most dominant. The truth is most people followed the requests to mask and stay socially distant. This helped prevent deaths. We all need to remember that most people want to help. The pandemic did make one positive change in health care. Both nursing schools and medical schools have record numbers applying this year.

Wash your hands, cover your nose, keep safe six, and get some rest.

And finally, my caveat is that this is my experience and my opinions, which are subject to change as more information is available, and not related to the organization I work for. Thanks for reading.