July 10, 2020

It is not just us

I just read distressing news out of France where a bus driver was beaten and killed by passengers after he asked them to wear masks. Wow. I don’t know what to say. Misinformation is a pandemic as well.

The US has set new records today for number of new cases: 68,000 at least and deaths are rising again. Granted, the majority of new infections are younger people who feel that this is just a flu like illness and “they just want to get it over with”. Some government leaders in some state still want us to get to “herd immunity”. We will only get to herd immunity when enough people get infected so that it stops spreading. That number is 60-70% of the population. Of course, if that many people have had COVID-19, the number of deaths will rise into the millions. And we actually don’t know yet if people have long-term immunity.

Not to scare you, but we are still learning the long term sequela, (the consequences or effects of having COVID-19). Even people with relatively mild cases have persistent fatigue, shortness of breath, and brain and thinking issues. Others end up with chronic lung or kidney disease. Some with blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes. This is truly the untold story. This story of COVID-19 is that we don’t yet the long term consequences, but so far, the stories of some people’s convalescence are not reassuring.

Think about other viruses that we have battled. We all know about HIV and how people with HIV need to take a combination of medications for the rest of their lives to prevent AIDS. We know about Herpes and the Chicken Pox Virus and how the initial infection resolves, but then goes and lives in our nerves to re-activate at times of stress causing cold sores, genital ulcers, or shingles. Polio is close to being eradicated but many people are alive who had it when young and are now living with a neurodegenerative disease call “Post-polio syndrome”. Viruses are not bacteria that can quickly be treated with antibiotics. The diseases they cause can be much more complex. I know enough to not want to get this. Or have my family and friends get this. Fortunately, scientists world wide are working to learn more and understand and are sharing what they learn.

That is why I remind us (me, too) every day of what works to keep us safe and avoid infections. The data shows that it is younger people being infected now rather than the elderly. That has shifted since older people are more likely to self-isolate. We know that what we are doing works, we need to keep it up, and not give up.

And there is reassurance for those of you with asthma that inhalers are safe to use.

Wash your hands, cover your nose, keep safe six. Enjoy the summer.

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.