As we move forward with some of the restrictions being lifted, this is bringing up a whole new set of issues for people.  Businesses are struggling to find the balance between bankruptcy and safety.  People are struggling with the balance of wanting to get out and fear of getting out.  This is a hard time with no precedence that is guiding the way.

I have read so many theories and looked at so many statistics that my brain is just full.  Frankly, it’s exhausting trying to keep up and maybe you are like me in just wanting to tune out. I was hoping that I would not be writing about COVID19 this week but here we are faced with the decision of when to move forward.  So, let’s look at some facts.    READ ON…..

  1.      Death rate is over reported– deaths being reported as COVID19 related are not all COVID. At this time of year we still have deaths from the flu and influenza and reports of these conditions have dropped significantly.  Symptoms for these conditions can be similar to COVID19 and if the hospitals code a patient with COVID19 they get more support.  There is a built in incentive to code everyone with COVID regardless if they have tested positive of not.
  2.       Total cases are under reported – many people don’t have significant enough symptoms to even think about getting tested. Combine this with the lack of testing we have been doing we are grossly underestimating the number of people who have truly had this condition.
  3.      Of currently infected people 97% have mild symptoms (according to worldometers)
  4.      Of cases that had outcomes from hospitalizations 80% recovered

Keeping those 4 points in mind let’s dive into the FAQ I keep hearing.  I will qualify this that much of this will be my opinion and you know that I rarely do that but since we don’t have any true guiding path I thought I would at least share some of my thoughts.

Will our diagnosed COVID19 cases go up in the next few weeks?  YES! Regardless if businesses open or not.   A lot of this is going to be access to testing though which has not previously been available.  There is no doubt we will continue to see positive cases for many months.  Keep in mind, the idea behind flattening the curve was not to decrease the number of cases but to decrease the immediate burden on the healthcare system.  We will most likely have the same number of cases and probably the same number of deaths overall just not all at once.  I have heard people saying we shouldn’t open anything until we don’t have any more cases.  This will be nearly impossible as we will be seeing COVID19 cases for many, many months.

Do we need to continue social distancing?  In my opinion, the answer is yes for now and this should be a weekly decision on when to proceed.  This does not mean not going out but just being mindful to not be in a large group in close quarters.

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Will there be more deaths?  Yes. We will have more deaths regardless if we open businesses or not.   It is tragic to lose anyone.  As long as we can keep the hospitals from filling to the brim then this would be the goal.  We are going to be adding to this number with what I am going to call COVID casualty deaths from suicide and lack of care for other medical conditions because clinics are limiting who they see if we don’t start trying to get back on track.

Should you wear a mask?  When I’m in the grocery store and see people with the masks I usually see them reaching up and adjusting them because they are slipping or fogging their glasses.  Guess what?  They just increased their risk tremendously by touching their face!!  Studies with active coughing patients with COVID19 show spread of virus even thru a surgical mask so the best thing is if you have active COVID just stay home, PLEASE!  Even though data has not shown cloth masks to be effective the CDC is still recommending wearing masks in high volume places because they feel when both the person who has COVID and the person who doesn’t wear masks and are 6 feet apart, the risk declines on transmission.  Take home point,  if you wear a mask, don’t touch it!

This is a hard time and it is going to be easy to find a target to blame….they should have done this… they shouldn’t have done that.  I keep coming back to all we know is what we know today.  Tomorrow will change.  The powers that be have been listening to the supposed experts who have done the best they can with this new virus.  Yes, they have been wrong in many instances but hindsight is always 20/20.  We have to be able to make adjustments as needed on a daily basis looking at the real facts and unfortunately, this is proving to be a very difficult task for the many reasons stated above.  We also have to start moving forward for the mental health of our country.

Do what you feel like you need to do with no apologies to anyone.  If you feel safer staying at home and not going out then do that.  If you are ready to venture out then do so safely and take extra precautions.  I love seeing our businesses given the opportunity to be making the judgement call of opening or not opening themselves.  We are getting our power back and we will all step into this next phase with cautious optimism.

Hang in there.  I do know that when we are faced with extraordinary challenges we find our inner strength.  We find our community.  We will rise up stronger and better than before!

To your health,