THERE IS A 'NEXT' STORM COMING IF WE DON'T MAKE 'NOW' CHANGES

There is no dispute among healthcare workers on the front lines, public health workers in the trenches and infectious disease experts in the lab, that America's “broken“ response to the novel coronavirus created a 'perfect storm' of calamity.

Granted, humans are inherently social creatures and the physical, emotional and economic impact of over three months of “lock down“ will not be fully manifested for years to come.

But the fact remains, that our largely dysfunctional federal government response was made exponentially worse by the same illogical and uninformed decision making that allowed us to “reopen America“ way too fast, and way too soon.

What did we expect to happen from an infectious disease and public health standpoint, when the decision was made to re-open beaches, bars, clubs and restaurants at the beginning of summer after people have been confined to their homes for the entire spring?

Now, everyone who has a credible and reliable expert opinion is affirming in unison that we are now staring down the barrel of a gun that is monumentally more dangerous than anything we confronted in March, April or May.

Now we have a sharp rise in cases among young people under the age of 50, and although they are still less likely to get sick themselves, because of their high rate of mobility and demonstrated inattentiveness to the importance of basic public health measures, the spikes among older patients and vulnerable patients will soon follow.

Remember, up to 40% of patients in this age group will never have symptoms despite having relatively higher viral loads.  When a patient population with few or no signs or symptoms of illness to spark concern collides with irresponsible government rhetoric that suggests that the COVID storm is over, it creates the perfect environment for COVID-19 to re-surge.

Remember that the infectivity rate (R[0]) for this virus is still somewhere between 1.8 and 2.5, meaning that every infected person, whether they have symptoms or not, is likely to infect at least 2 other people.

Public health experts and global infectious disease specialist will again unanimously reaffirm that “now“ responses absolutely matter!

Some of the “now“ responses will involve re-imposing some of the restrictions that limit gatherings and potential prolonged close contact between people.

But the majority of our “now responses, must be owned individually, because each of us has a vital role to play.

We must govern ourselves and our behavior as though we ourselves are infected and allowe our inherent human desire to 'do-right' by one another to fuel and guide our behavior.  

When we wear face coverings consistently and appropriately, we can reduce the likelihood of transmission by more than half.

When we observe social distancing etiquette and enforce social distancing spacing for our own personal airspace, we can reduce the likelihood of transmission by more than half.

When we consistently practice appropriate hand-washing with soap and water or hand sanitizer, then we can reduce the likelihood of transmission by more than half.

And when we get tested, and know our personal COVID-status, it enables the public health infrastructure to track, trace, test and appropriately quarantine our contacts in the event that we test positive.

The time for the finger pointing is over, because we know that our President is clueless and has no regard for the health or safety of the citizenry.  On the frontlines, in the trenches-- it your home, church, cneighborhood, workplace and social circle of friends-- we cannot blame our personal lack of attention or resposibility on his incompetence.

The time for wishful/hopeful dreaming is over, because we know that a safe, effective and globally-available vaccine is at least 12 months away or longer.

The time for making excuses is over, because we know that now our most energetic and mobile group within the population is among the highest group of infected individuals--  therefore representing the greatest threat to public health and safety.

Now is the time for personal resposibility and morality-driven action, because we know that if we do not act now, more people will become sick, more will become hospitalized, and more will die.

We know that hospitals will again be overwhelmed and supplies while again become scarce.

And we know that shut downs and shelter-in-place orders will re-emerge.  Sports will again disappear and schools will further delay re-opening.

If what each of us executes as individuals can effectively reduce transmission by half or more, stop COVID-19 in its tracks within our personal spaces and circles or interaction, then why would we not make every effort to do everything possible to be a help and not a hindrance.

If what each of us can individually put into practice can keep ourselves and the people around us healthy, safe and employed, then why would we not do whatever is necessary to enable solutions rather than dysfunction.

Now is the time to step up and do the right things for yourself, your family, your friends, your coworkers, and your neighbors.  because how we weather this coming 'next' storm will depend on how we prepare right now!


Reverend Christopher T Conti, MD is the Lead Pastor of Emmanuel Pittsburgh and a licensed emergency medicine physician, author and Christian Life Coach