Why this immunocompromised doctor wants you to stay home

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I am a middle-aged gastroenterologist almost 15 years out of training. I have a chronic medical disease and had a bout with lymphoma two years ago, both of which require me to stay indefinitely on immunosuppressive drugs.

I am certainly not the only health care worker who is scared. Most winters that I will contract the flu or another illness from patients who want their screening colonoscopies performed while sick, from other restaurant patrons refusing to stay home while sick, or coworkers afraid of reprimands if they call in sick.

But this year is different. Those of us with compromised immune systems may not be here next year unless people take this seriously and isolate. Yes, that means you. I am inundated on Facebook and Instagram with angry parents because they have to work at home and (gasp) their children are bugging them. Friends complaining that their gyms and restaurants are indefinitely closed. Friends refusing to stay home and still traveling and bragging about their cheap flights and posting pictures of faraway places.

Or my favorite comment, “This isn’t as deadly as the flu, why is the government overreacting?”

They point to false data created by the same people who refuse to vaccinate. They believe, despite extensive data to the contrary, that if you are afebrile and asymptomatic, you don’t have and can’t pass on the virus. They refuse to try and understand or even read the data that we could flatten the curve and significantly decrease the spread and devastation of this virus. They insist on playdates, wine dates, and any other “dates” so as not to be isolated.

In my hometown, one greenhouse is actually encouraging parents to bring their children to come and play and be healthy in the dirt during school closures. There is a CrossFit studio still holding classes. Many beauty salons are business as usual, directly against CDC and state mandates.

I am shocked and dismayed by the general “it’s not my problem” mentality of many Americans today. I have stopped trying to explain the possible massive shortage of hospital and ICU beds that will emerge soon. You may not die of coronavirus, but when there is no hospital bed, or your local cardiologist is sick, you may not survive your heart attack. Now extrapolate that truth to all the other illnesses Americans survive daily because we have ready access to health care, despite what the world media may tell you.

Watching Americans flaunt CDC recommendations, their state government recommendations, and their own employers’ recommendations because they’re convinced they themselves and their immediate family won’t die or become severely ill, illustrates perfectly the etiology of the massive countrywide burnout and mass exodus of physicians from clinical practice. Selfishness is at pandemic levels. Wake up America. Each and every person could stop this virus today.

The author is an anonymous physician.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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