Even though I’ve taken time to process, I am still so angered by the protests across the country that I feel the need to speak up.
I have largely stayed away from COVID posts, despite it consuming the rest of my life. I’m not looking for a debate, or even affirmation for my views. I know I may not change any minds, but those who express their opinions need to allow me a platform to safely express mine.
I want to make this clear: I am in no way opposed to people’s right to protest. I definitely don’t want to see my husband and so many friends out of work. No one wants to see businesses go under or families lose their homes. I know that I am not in the same boat as so many others, but I also don’t want to keep seeing refrigeration trucks outside of hospitals to hold the overflow of bodies. I support the slow reopening of businesses as soon as appropriate safety measures are in place. Although vague, the White House has already laid out recommendations for opening the country that make sense, and our state is nowhere near ready for phase one.
This is why these protests were so incredibly counter-productive. There were people wearing MAGA hats that clearly hadn’t read the recommendations that came from Trump’s office. Although it was taken down, there was a confederate flag flying. There was a woman holding a sign that read “I want a haircut.”
A more productive protest would have been 1000 people, each spaced ten feet apart, and wearing face coverings, to demonstrate that we are ready for at least one of the core state preparedness responsibilities set out.
What a lot of the protestors forgot is they can’t reopen and run their business if they are sick at home, or hospitalized, or dead. They will have to shut down again if an outbreak happens at their workplace because precautions weren’t in place, and we don’t yet have the ability to track those at risk. The bills an owner or employee could receive from a COVID-19 hospitalization may be far larger than the revenue generated or income made from reopening a business before the state is ready.
That is why, when I saw the protests, I feared the extra time it might take to reopen businesses because of the second wave of COVID-19 that may result from so many people in close contact. I thought about the influx of sick patients we are going to see in the hospital because people were not maintaining their distance or wearing masks.
If these individuals were brazen enough to do this publicly, I’m sure they are not adhering to the guidelines in their day to day lives, either. I thought about the heartbreak that patients and family members are going through being separated during hospitalizations or ICU stays. I thought about my colleagues across the country who fear they could run out of the ventilators they need to save as many people as they can.
359 days ago, I was in an ICU bed fighting for my life on a ventilator. One week earlier, I was considered a “healthy young woman.” I wonder how many other “low risk” people just haven’t found out that they are living with a condition that actually makes them high risk.
The biggest difference between one year ago and now, is that hospitals then were fully equipped with the resources to take care of me. The treatments for my condition were well-established. I was able to be surrounded by family and friends. I was not alone.
If you are uncomfortable seeing someone intubated in an ICU bed, stay at home. Just because you can’t enter a hospital to see what is happening, doesn’t mean we are exaggerating the circumstances.
I have heard people say that those who support stay at home orders are just scared and living in fear. How dare you. That is trashing all the hospital workers who are stepping onto the frontlines every single day. So many hospital employees also have an “and.” I am a physician and a cancer survivor. I finished chemotherapy four months ago, and yes, I worry that every day I walk into the hospital or clinic is the day I will be exposed. But I still go to work. If we removed all the medical workers who have an “and,” we wouldn’t have enough physicians to fight this infection. We wouldn’t have enough nurses to take care of you if you become sick.
For those who say the flu kills more people, H1N1 killed more people, or heart disease/cancer/other non-communicable diseases kills more people … for the last ten years, influenza has killed 12,000-61,000 US citizens annually. H1N1 killed 12,500 US citizens in one year at the peak of the outbreak — and there were antivirals that were effective at treating it.
Deaths from substance abuse, cancer, and heart disease do not happen because you had a bonfire with your friends to celebrate the start of spring. The death toll for COVID-19 is 35,000 in just three months. There are no well-proven treatments. Our only defense is to slow the spread. Maybe the same number of people will get sick over a longer period of time, but maybe a better treatment will be found that will save lives. Do you want to see the full damage COVID can do if it is allowed to spread unchecked so that life can “go back to normal”?
We are unfortunately very accustomed to the annual deaths from x, y, and z, but right now “bombs” of COVID have gone off across the country, leading to a previously-unanticipated loss of life. How many lives would be cut short if we reopen the country without diffusing the rest of the bombs? What economic burden on society would be created by years of potential productive life lost and cost of productivity lost?
We went to war over the deaths caused by 9/11, but now that this war has to be fought within the borders of our country and it’s not just soldiers being asked to make sacrifices, it’s “too much” and a “threat to freedom.”
The estimated death rate for COVID-19 is as high as three percent. Yes, this rate may be lower if we were able to test everyone to truly see how many people have asymptomatic infections, but the US population is around 330 million and we do not have 330 million tests. If you are so desperate for all businesses to reopen that you are willing to risk the lives of three friends, family members, or acquaintances for every 100 people you know, I feel sorry for you. I will pray for the lives of those people that you are willing to sacrifice.
So to all of you who supported me during my cancer treatment but now would rather put my family and me at unnecessary risk, please respectfully keep your comments away from me, unfriend me on social media — or don’t be surprised if you notice that I have unfriended you first.