Our nation is now greater than six months into the worst public well being disaster we now have recognized in over a century. Greater than 6 million confirmed COVID-19 instances and 190,000-plus documented fatalities later, what have we discovered?
Reality is, we now have acquired an unlimited quantity of actionable information in regards to the virus—how you can check for and higher deal with it, how you can stop its unfold and how you can defend ourselves in opposition to it. However gaining information and making use of it efficiently should not the identical factor.
Giant well being methods are in a singular place to share some broad core classes that may serve us all nicely going ahead:
Handle our healthcare heroes. Even our docs and nurses who served within the army or educated in emergency medication by no means imagined having to place their very own lives and livelihoods on maintain for such prolonged intervals. Even after the pandemic has handed, 1000’s of them could expertise a singular type of skilled and private post-traumatic stress dysfunction. We should acknowledge and deal with this by rotating them off the entrance strains and increasing the healthcare workforce.
Acknowledge that disparities are a matter of life and demise. Well being disparities grounded in race and ethnicity have been topic to coverage discussions for many years. The deprived face an ideal storm: extra prone to be uncovered to the virus, however much less prone to have entry to testing and therapy; extra prone to have underlying circumstances, however much less possible to deal with the monetary impacts of the pandemic. And maybe quickly—much less possible to have the ability to entry the vaccines that afford some degree of safety.
Right here comes the flu … It’s at all times necessary for everybody, most actually caregivers, to get a flu vaccination. However this 12 months people have to be accountable for his or her signs like by no means earlier than. Keep dwelling if you’re sick and name your physician instantly if in case you have signs (telehealth calls are simpler and extra obtainable than ever). Bear in mind: flu signs and COVID-19 signs may be very comparable.
… and someday quickly, a COVID-19 vaccine. Our nation’s dealing with of the pandemic so far should not presage our dealing with of a vaccine; the approval course of have to be science-driven and encourage public confidence. Distribution should initially prioritize important employees. As extra widespread vaccinations are doable, nobody ought to need to go with out attributable to entry or affordability challenges.
Finish the “masks confusion.” As a nation, it took a few years and multimillion-dollar public-awareness campaigns for us to put on seat belts and quit smoking in public locations. These have been long-term appeals, however we would not have the luxurious of time proper now. The science has developed, and there’s extra proof than ever earlier than that carrying a masks is efficient. In reality, carrying a masks have to be a universally accepted norm.
Fast, dependable testing. We can not afford an on-again, off-again dedication to COVID-19 testing; for the foreseeable future, it’s an crucial. However actual challenges stay: whereas figuring out constructive instances has apparent advantages, ready 5 to 10 days for outcomes nearly nullifies the capability to include unfold. We want a constant give attention to deploying handy checks that produce dependable, fast outcomes and actively driving their use, notably amongst high-risk populations, in sizzling spots and for these uncovered to a recognized constructive.
Put together to be screened. For the foreseeable future, and maybe indefinitely, screening in healthcare services and different public venues would be the new regular. Once you come to a hospital or clinic, count on to have your temperature taken and reply screening questions. These are for everybody’s security—sufferers and caregivers.
No healthcare skilled must be reminded of the seriousness of what lies forward. Let’s take what we’ve discovered, be prepared and prepared to adapt—and construct a brand new resolve to defeat this virus collectively.