I rarely post more than pictures on Facebook. In fact, I rarely use Facebook for much of anything anymore. But I need you all to just listen for a second.
I’m scared. For you and for me.
I need you all to take a minute and think of the last time that you interacted in-person with someone who does not live in your home. Did you see a friend this weekend? Did you go to the store? Did you go inside the gas station? Did family come in from out of state? How about that wedding shower that you went to? Your girls’ weekend? Do you have plans to watch the Husker game with people? Even if it’s only like one other person? Did you have your kids’ friends over to play in the basement?
I ask you these questions because though they may be low-risk to you, they are high-risk to me. Because my colleagues and I cannot take care of all of you currently needing to be admitted to the hospital. You’re right: Most people with COVID do just fine. But, a number of people do not. And if our health care workforce keeps getting stretched to the limits AND many of them keep needing time to quarantine due to COVID or positive exposures, then we are ALL going to be in a really dark(er) place. For example, my institution usually runs 2 general COVID teams. We are up to 6-7 teams with plans to increase to 10. You know what that also means? We will run out of space for non-COVID patients too. And we may not have enough people to take care of these folks.
Please. Please. Rethink interacting with people outside of your home. I know this exhausting. I’m tired. I miss my old life. You’re right; I don’t have older kids that need human interaction with others. But please help. I jokingly compare COVID to an STD: The person you are with may seem “safe,” but you never know where they have been. And though that’s rather funny, it’s scarily true. Asymptomatic carriers and or people that are positive but don’t have symptoms yet are a real problem. Don’t think negative COVID test excuses what you’ve done or clears you! You can still turn positive a day or two later, having exposed people in the meantime. Ugh.
Please don’t assume this isn’t about you and that I’m directing this to someone else not you. Don’t assume you’re doing enough. We all AREN’T doing enough. Take a step back and assume you aren’t doing enough: How you could have done better? How can you do better starting right now? I beg you all to make decisions for your health care providers. My colleagues and I are making sacrifices for you. Please make a sacrifice for us.
Allison Ashford is a hospitalist.
Image credit: Shutterstock.com