COVID-19 Community Update 4/2/2020
I wanted to start off by saying “Thank you” to our local officials for giving me a platform to share a prepared to our community and those beyond our county lines. It is a humbling honor to be asked to share with you on this solemn occasion.
We are at WAR.
We are at war with a microscopic enemy that is ravishing our world, our country, our state and even our city and countryside of this great county. No one gets a free pass on the range and scope of this virus’s wrath.
This is NOT a political stunt. This is NOT a conspiracy theory. This is NOT a DRILL.
This IS a DEADLY, CONTAGIOUS VIRUS that WILL affect some one you know and love.
As a Community, we have prepared for and weathered devastating hurricanes. We have immediately taken shelter at the horrific sound of a tornado. We MUST NOW act in unison for the deadly storm that is at our front door.
Some of us feel like we are stuck playing a board game with an older sibling who keeps changing the rules mid game. You are not alone. The medical field feels that too. We are adapting and changing on an hour by hour basis to advance the front line of this war. So here is the most current info that we have today.
COVID IS raging in Grady County. Do not be fooled by the numbers reported. It IS here. The positive test results will always underestimate the true number of cases. The Georgia Dept of Public Health releases at noon everyday data on a county by county basis of the number of confirmed cases and number of deaths. Our local Archbold Memorial Hospital System, under the direction of Mr. Perry Mustain, in an effort to be as transparent with the community as possible, releases a detailed Daily update to the public on it’s Facebook page of the number COVID cases across the multi-county span of Archbold’s reach. The data from DPH and Archbold must be viewed in stereo to get a better 3D picture of the rapidly evolving wildfire. Despite our best efforts to rapidly report new cases, our published data will become obsolete, sometimes within minutes of publication. We are seeing truly exponential growth in parts of this state only 50 miles from home.
How many people are going to die? Too Many. We are seeing people die already. DPH reports Georgians in their 20s, 30s, 40s and upwards are dying. Did you hear that? There are young mothers and fathers dying from this virus, not just the grandparents. Other states have even lost children to this monster. It is not unrealistic to predict numbers in the hundreds of thousands.
Every year, we preach about the flu and how many it kills. To so many in this community, it falls on deaf ears. In the 2017-2018 season the Flu killed 79,000 Americans. That is enough to fill up the FSU football stadium. Make no mistake. This is NOT the flu. It is DEADLIER and far more contagious.
Some data shows that a patient can become infected and contagious for 5 days (2-14 days by some data) before they start to show symptoms of the disease. Most cases of the flu are well into the recovery stage by day 5, but with COVID patients, they have spread the disease UNKNOWINGLY and INDISCRIMANTLY for 5 days before they can even tell they have it.
How many people did you come in close contact with yesterday? Maybe I should ask, how many people did you infect yesterday?
By the way, did you know that if someone dies of COVID in the hospitals across the nation, they die alone? Visitors are not being allowed in the hospitals because this virus is so contagious. There will be no family vigils at bedside or holding your loved-ones hands as they pass. So you have to ask yourself, how important is that errand you “have” to run.
Can my local hospital handle all the sick patients? No. No hospital can. That’s why the US is in ever increasing mitigation mode. Our small-town hospital has FOUR ICU beds. FOUR. Let that sink in. Even larger hospitals like Archbold have surge capacity limits. Look at what is happening in Manhattan where there are 11 Ginormous hospitals that are overflowing. Even if we had endless ICU beds and endless ventilators available, the largest strain on any system will be the available staff to run the unit. That’s why the US Military and State National Guards are assuming ever expanding roles in this war.
Who should be tested? As of right now, we do not have enough tests to survey the entire population. So, the CDC has offered guidance on the prioritization of testing. Until we have adequate testing capabilities, only the highest risks patients will be tested. That means that many, if not most, will at some point be told to return home and shelter in place as you fight the virus at home. For those non-hospitalized patients who fall into higher risk categories who become symptomatic, there is an outpatient test that can be ran, but must be ordered by a doctor. As of today, patients must drive to Thomasville for this test. Turn around time for these tests can be unpredictable depending on demand but have been getting much faster. Remember the rules keep changing. As more tests become available, as more people test positive and different types of tests flood the market, this testing strategy will likely evolve.
Who should go to the ER? Only people who are so sick that they are having trouble breathing from COVID should go to the ER. This can be a rapidly progressive disease, so if you or a loved one start to struggle, you should notify a family member to be on alert in case symptoms worsen to the point that emergency care is warranted and they can help get you to the ER or notify 911 for you. To be clear: DO NOT GO TO THE ER JUST TO BE TESTED. If you are sick enough to go to the ER, you should be sick enough to need to stay in the hospital. Otherwise, you should contact your primary care doctor for guidance on outpatient management. I’ll say it again: Call your doctor for guidance if you are not ER level sick. REMEMBER: Most people will be able to nurse themselves back to health at home while doing their best to stay away from their other family members. Family members may be asked to help sick loved ones at home-because we all know that Men act like babies when they get a little cold.
What role can my regular doctor play? Your regular primary care doctor can help you manage your chronic health issues, treat you with symptomatic meds as you fight the virus at home and help you decide if you need to be hospitalized or not. You should CALL your doctor’s office before just showing up as most doctors are attempting to treat the sick in their vehicles (if possible). If you don’t have a doctor, call a local doctor’s office. They might be able to accommodate your needs. The Doctor’s offices can help keep the ER’s empty by taking care of non-emergency care at their office-or potentially by televisit.
Should I wear a mask in public? You should not need one because you should not be out in public anyway. There is great debate on this topic currently. Common sense tells us that if you are sick enough to need a mask, you should be at home. If you Must get out and about because you are ill or there is no one else to help you, then ask a neighbor or friend to help you. If you must leave the house while sick, then WEAR A MASK and Gloves, touch no one and get back home ASAP.
We ARE at War. Just like any War Campaign, there must be Boots on the Ground. This will not be won with a drone strike. Your healthcare workers have been deployed to wage war in your stead. I see Hospital Staff, Doctor’s Office Employees, Nursing Home Staff and Pharmacy Employees… who go BOLDLY to the Front Lines of this battle to save the lives of your loved ones. Sadly, much like in a military deployment, most of these warriors find themselves not just social distancing from the rest of the world as you are called to do, but isolating themselves from their spouses and young children at home so they do not spread the virus, that you may have exposed them to, back to their loved ones. I see the real-life drama of mommas and daddies struggle with their calling to help the sick at the COST of their own family life.
We are expecting our Governor to issue a Stay at Home order some time today that will go into effect tomorrow. You should not leave your property unless you have ESSENTIAL business to conduct or groceries to gather. If you have any symptoms of COVID, you should not be the one running errands. You should STAY HOME to protect us ALL. Previous Generations of Americans have been called to war. You have been called to sit on your couch. You can handle this. So, when the call comes for you to stay home and shelter in place WITH your family, just remember that there are others who CANNOT go home to their family because they are taking care of you.
You too are called to action. We have a Civic Duty to help each other. We ARE the Land of the Free BECAUSE of the Brave. Just remember the reason why we are being called upon to sacrifice some of our Civil Liberties during this War: it is so YOU don’t have to watch a FUNERAL of your loved one on Facebook. It is to help the hospital to have enough healthy employees present at work for when YOU get sick and need care. It is so, we as a community, as a nation can get the upper hand up on this enemy as quickly as possible.
During this War, we owe it to our children to teach them how Americans fight to win. Retell the stories of Paul Revere, John Paul Jones, Rosie the Riveter and Victory Gardens.
As grim as this address has been, I would be remiss if I did not say that we need balance. We freely and temporarily yield some social liberties for the lives of family members. We cannot be consumed with fear. We must use Wisdom. There is not enough medicine on the planet to treat the anxiety that this could trigger for us all. But, if I might offer a prescription for you and your family’s mental well-being, it would be this: Exercise your Faith in God, your mind with deep thoughts and your body with exertion. Reject Fear. Sing. Dance. Find a way to Laugh every day. Laughter releases a chemical in your brain called Enkephalins that are more powerful and therapeutic than Morphine or Prozac. Eat Healthy. Get a good night’s sleep. Make the most of Family Time. Explore your Artistic side. Journal. Turn off Netflix and read a book out loud to your family. Be a good Citizen. Flex your God-given Freedom to protect your family by staying home. Have the Wisdom to swallow your pride. Be Kind. Pray.
We need each other now more than ever. God Bless You.
Jonathan Lynch, MD