Friday, March 20, 2020
End times are here. I never thought it would look like this: panicky people stocking up on toilet paper during an outbreak of a disease that has nothing to do with poop, pooping or any other gastrointestinal concerns. People are stocking up on dry goods because they can. The shortage of toilet paper on our shelves has nothing to do with an increased need for toilet paper. It has everything to do with the spread of mis-information on social media; the fear-driven behavior of a society that has lost the ability, as a whole, to think rationally; and the selfishness that is now predominant in a national culture lead by the most xenophobic president ever to be elected to lead the United States of America.
The apocalypse will look like half the country using newsprint to wipe asses, while the other half of the country sits on stashes of dry goods like toilet paper because of greed and fear. The apocalypse looks like thousands of indifferent and apathetic college-age individuals sitting together on beaches in Florida because "it won't affect them."
Yesterday during a news briefing, President Trump said, "it's an exciting time in medicine; it's going to be great," with respect to the possibility of the use of chloroquine to stem the effects of the novel corona virus, COVID-19. This is not an exiting time in medicine. This is a scary time. this is a heart-breaking and sad time. Italian physicians are treating their colleagues and watching hundreds of bodies being carried off by the national army every day. Doctors are having to pull the plug on some sick patients on ventilators so that others can have the ICU bed and possibly survive. What kind of creep would call this an exciting time in medicine? Only a freakishly ignorant person would call this an exciting time. Unless he has stock shares in the pharmaceutical companies who may deliver the supply of chloroquine to clinics this month.
Today, Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State, used the daily public press briefing on the pandemic to advance his xenophobic policies and beliefs. Both he and the president used this valuable air time to call this pandemic "the Chinese Virus." They used this public air time to advance their racist agenda and blame the lack of border closures for the advancing spread of COVID-19. They compared our rates of death and rates of virus spread to Italy's, stating that Italy's crisis is simply due to the fact that they have open borders. This is simply wrong, and is a mean, spiteful message.
As a nurse, I have already seen my colleagues quarantined. I know that we are being told to re-use and clean our face masks. I have one mask that I plan to use for the rest of the year. I work hard every day to keep myself healthy so that I can continue to care for the ill. I know that it doesn't matter how many ventilators we have-- if we don't have nurses and physicians to staff ICU beds, it doesn't matter how many ventilators ("respirators") come out of the wood work. These machines don't run themselves.
I am horrified by alternative medicine practitioners who are claiming that they can boost immunity with herbs. I am horrified by any and all people who claim to know anything about this virus. Nobody knows what is happening. We have never seen anything like this pandemic in modern times. The last time we had such a virulent infectious disease racing through the world population was in 1918. Things looked very different 102 years ago.
We are getting it wrong. Our president is sending the wrong messages every day. The focus is on the wrong things. We don't need more toilet paper and ventilators. We need competent leadership, healthy nurses and competent physicians. We need testing. We need data. We need people to believe how serious this is, and to keep their distances from one another. We need to stop focusing on anti-malarial drugs and stop listening to a president that has "a gut feeling about this" and have those people start focusing on preventing the spread of this virus.