January 4, 2020

Don't share your air

A sad report out of California today in which an inflatable costume used in an ER to cheer staff at Christmas is now associated with more than 40 infections and at least one death. The costume used a fan which presumably circulated air containing the virus. I am sure the staff member feels terrible. This is a similar mechanism of transmission related to someone using a CPAP machine in an enclosed space. If they were infected, they could unknowingly spread the virus more readily in the surrounding air.

California is overwhelmed right now, the ER’s are bursting at the seams, some patients not even being able to be unloaded from the ambulance they arrived in. They are then cared for in the ambulance and not the hospital since there are not beds. They are so full that the EMT’s have been told not to transport patients to the hospital who they can’t resuscitate, who have no pulse or respiration since their chance of survival is already almost zero. These are tough calls for the medics to have to make and will add to moral injury.

Several hospital groups in California have banded together to spread a new message: “Don’t share your air.” Kaiser Permanent and other hospitals advise that wearing masks, keeping air moving, preferably outside, and keeping visits short can help you to not share your air. They were hoping people would follow the recommendation over the holidays, but it may have come too late. There are still too many anti-mask protestors in Southern California, putting store employees and others at risk.

Add in the new fast moving variant and things are likely to get worse for many people before they get better. This article in The Atlantic is a dire warning about increasing infections from the variant. It has the caveat that the same techniques we have been using to avoid infections the last 10 months will keep working, if we don’t let our guard down. We all must keep up our safety measures and be patient long enough for the vaccines to be dispensed.

It is going to take time to get the vaccines up and running. We have been abandoned by our president, who is focused on his own self and not others. Help is coming soon, though. The new administration understands the situation and is preparing. The already overwhelmed local Health Departments want to help. They need support to make it happen. With the change we can start to turn the tide, including the tide of anger and denial.

The rest of us need to maintain for a little while longer. We have got this.

Wash your hands, cover your nose, keep safe six, and don’t share your air.

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.