As the next surge of COVID-19 patients arrives, memories of the last still linger in my mind: memories of lives lost, patients still experiencing symptoms after months since diagnosis, and fear. No matter how old the patient or what comorbidities they gave, some degree of fear accompanies them. They have seen the news and watched as the numbers climbed. At this point in the pandemic, they likely know someone who has died to this horrible virus.
While the physical task of limiting patient exposure can be challenging, some days I feel more like an air traffic controller than a doctor, the actual treatment of these patients is even more so. Experimental treatments are being claimed as cures while still not available to most patients. People ask about vaccines for which there is still no data. Will it be available in a month or a year? Will it work? Will it be safe? We answer these questions the best we can, hoping we can wish it here.
Patients who are infected, and even those who are not, are afraid, I can see it in their eyes. And that fear is not easy to alleviate as we still do not have answers. Will they become a long hauler? Have they exposed someone else? Should they get their children tested? Should their kids go to school? So many questions yet so few answers. Did I wash my hands long enough? Am I now infected? Is it safe for me to go to the store or I am now a risk to others?
Experts struggle to find the evidence to control this pandemic. However, others fill in the gaps while research is being done. Those with no science or medical training make claims that are harmful while claiming them to be true. Masks don’t work they say, yet the evidence piles up that they do. Medications have been touted as cures that have proven not to work. Yet, people cling to them because they heard they do.