This infectious disease physician is furious and exhausted


I am exhausted. I’m a physician in the suburbs of Houston. The latest COVID-19 infection rates in the Houston area show a steep increase in rates since reopening in May. And it’s still rising.

As an infectious diseases physician in the middle of this whole COVID-19 pandemic, and as a mom of 2, here’s why I’m tired:

1. Working almost every day (weekends included) since this March at multiple hospitals and in my clinic. I am sure it’s a challenge to learn to work remotely, but it might have been nice to have that opportunity for a bit.

2. Struggling to try to deal with remote learning for the kids when I’m not actually home to assist. Yes, my husband was able to work from home and help as much as possible. But with two kids at home, it is helpful for their mother to be there to assist. And I can assure you: The school did not seem to have an understanding of the fact that I’m a physician mom not working from home during all of this. No accommodations were made for this and no adjustments in anything.

3. No vacation in the foreseeable future. Yes, everyone is going through this right now. But you know who could use a vacation the most right now? The health care workers who are in the midst of this pandemic. So that really stinks for us.

4. Watching people congregate in large numbers all over the place without masks as soon as reopening began. As if nothing had happened at all. And seeing people still going out all over the place. As if nothing is going on right now. Finally, we got some sort of mandate on wearing masks, so at least that’s happening now (better late than never). Especially infuriating when I am driving home from work after seeing a patient dying from COVID-19.

5. Those who claim that COVID-19 is a hoax or that the numbers are conflated or that mandating masks is some sort of conspiracy to deprive Americans of their rights (I guess those rights include infecting everyone else).

6. Trying to educate patients on how COVID-19 is spread and how to avoid catching it or transmitting it, just to have them look at me doubtfully as if I’m conspiring to keep them from their family or friends just for the hell of it. Like it gives me some type of great joy to tell them they have to social distance.

7. Worrying about what is going to happen in the upcoming school year. Due to the current COVID-19 caseload, I doubt we will see school re-openings in normal fashion. So now we have to worry about a second school year of damage to our children’s education.

8. But most of all, I am tired of the complete ineptitude and collapse in the leadership of the people “in charge.” When public health experts, physicians, and medical organizations are giving political leaders their expert opinions, how difficult is it to actually follow their recommendations?

To the leaders in our country, our state, our local area who have failed to take needed measures to contain this pandemic, I am utterly furious. We couldn’t have prevented this pandemic from happening. But we could have slowed it and decreased the numbers drastically. It is not a violation of American rights to mandate closures, restrict activities, and mandate masks in the middle of a public health emergency. And who mandates school closures, but allows bars, restaurants, and malls to reopen? What are they thinking?

The author is an anonymous physician.

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