I can't believe it's August. And hurricane season! I hope everyone stays safe today as the rains come. The experts are predicting a tumultuous hurricane season, but I am hoping the "experts" are wrong, just as many of the Covid predictions have been wrong. As always in Charleston, be wary of flooding on roadways and be careful! Why does it always seem that these storms come at high tide and/or a full moon?
As the news reports regarding Hurricane Isaias came in, I was struck by the irony of the possibility of evacuation shelters in the midst of our social distancing policies. It reminds me of a Tiktok video that made fun of the inconsistencies with the Covid recommendations.
Until Covid, business owners, politicians, and health care professionals typically made decisions based on weighing pros and cons or performing a risk/ benefit analyses. However, over the last 4-5 months, it seems as though decisions have been made with the idea that we must "fight Covid over all else." Of course, while this has been the directive coming from government officials, the inconsistencies laid out of been too numerous to list. But to name a couple how about the criteria for essential businesses or the fact that golf courses could remain open but beaches were closed, etc., etc., etc.
I have been keeping close track of the data being reported for Covid. And based on what I am seeing, and my interpretation of the numbers, as well as my continued observations when I work at Roper Mt. Pleasant Hospital and East Cooper Medical Center, we, as a society, need to suspend our fear of the virus, get back to living, and return to the practice of weighing risks and benefits. When the news first started coming in regarding Covid, and when the quarantines first went into effect in California, decisions were being made based on reports such as the one from England that estimated 2 million American deaths from Covid by the end of the summer, a report that as debunked fairly early on. However, the quarantines continued because of reports of the high fatalities in the Northeast, while areas like the Southeast were seeing many fewer cases. The narrative in the beginning was to "flatten the curve." This theory arose from fears that if the British study was correct, then the American health care system would be overwhelmed.
I also feel that because of the flattening of the curve idea, the theory of a second spike also arose because if we kept things fairly well closed until school started, then we could expect a resurgence of the virus come fall.
Have you noticed, though, that the narrative now is focused on the daily cases and death numbers, not "flattening the curve." As I just explained, the rationale behind the quarantine was to flatten the curve, not lower the case number. And there has been a lot of reporting on South Carolina's high daily case number, especially for the state's population.
However, I see this as news with a silver lining. In prior blogs I have explained how the numbers, in my opinion, point towards a possible herd immunity being achieved in South Carolina.
Admittedly, I cannot confirm this herd immunity theory of mine will hold true (time will tell), but I can tell you that the DHEC website currently does not seem to be predicting a second wave of cases this fall based on the graph on hospital bed needs throughout the rest of the year. Also, I can tell you that while the daily case numbers have remained high over the last 2 weeks, the numbers are on a downward trajectory, as is the percent positive number of daily tests. Additionally, while the press continues to highlight the daily case number, and in my opinion reports these numbers with continued alarm, the Roper system reports on Friday that the Covid hospitalizations are nearly half of what they were 2 weeks ago, and only 16 patients over 4 hospitals are in the ICU, with 12 of those 16 patients requiring a ventilator. When I have been at the hospital, things seem pretty much "business as usual."
So it is quite frustrating to me when I hear news reports, like I did last evening, that stated with such surprise that there could be a total of 200,000 lives lost due to Covid. Of course, every life matters, but have we forgotten that 2 million was predicted when we first learned about Covid? Have we forgotten that the US saw over 600,000 deaths from cancer in 2019? Again, I must emphasize that every life matters, but I have also read reports estimating that a large percentage of the Covid deaths have been in individuals that would have likely succumbed to natural causes and or their co-morbidities by year's end in the absence of Covid.
I will be the first to concede that the virus is serious and can be deadly. I have been concerned enough to stay away from my parents and my brother who is a type I diabetic until this weekend. But I was happy to see, when I visited them in Hilton Head this weekend, that Hilton Head seems to be thriving, with restaurants open. This makes me think that reason for the higher Charleston Covid numbers (per capita) could be attributed to the Charleston bar and party seen, frequented by the younger set, since both Beaufort and Hilton Head are known for its tourists. So where do we go from here???
I think schools should reopen, for what my 2 cents are worth (which is not much, lol). As I said, we need to get back to living. The secondary effects of the shutdowns are starting to show their ugly head, and we cannot live in fear forever. T
he earnings reports for the second quarter are coming in, revealing the very poor numbers for health care institutions. These poor revenue numbers reflect how patients were not receiving life saving treatments, ie for cancer and heart disease over the lockdowns. Within the last 2 weeks alone I have cared for 2 skin cancer patients whose condition was negatively affected by Covid. And when you hear stories about patient dying from a stroke who gets classified as a Covid death, it's hard not to question the daily death counts even being reported.
I happened to learn last week that a 17 month old tragically died in my neighborhood as a result of a drowning incident in the family pool. Drownings have continued to happen this summer along with other accidents. In fact, more children will die from drownings this year than Covid. And while there has been considerable press about the several children in SC with MIS-C,a condition felt to be related to Covid, I don't hear any news reports about pool safety, nor any calls to ban backyard pools. The drowning tragedy hit me particularly hard because my own daughter had a drowning accident when she was three, and was miraculously resuscitated. I cherish every day I have with Sophie. Among the many things we have lost through Covid, we have forgotten to cherish one another. There are reports about the increase in depression and suicide, as well as domestic abuse because of the harm placed on society by the Covid restrictions.
But without being that grim, I do see that people are more testy these days, and quick to anger. I get it, the strain many are feeling is real. And on top of the strains caused by Covid, both financial and health-wise, life's other strains and realities remain. I was upset when I read one of the social media comments posted below the news report on 17th month old when police responded to the scene. At that time there was still hope for a survival. Someone posted a disparaging remark questioning why the parents left the child unattended. My heart breaks for those parents who will forever be haunted by the death of their precious daughter. I can't think of any pain worse than the loss of a child. Negative comments like this on social media serve nobody. I am hopeful that the fall will see continued re-openings of businesses, sporting events, concerts, and a return to normal, and not just a "new normal." We need face to face interaction, and not a life of isolation at home, ordering from Amazon, and communicating via Facebook and Tiktok.
We need things to look forward to and positive news. We need to get beyond the fear created by public health officials and experts, who have proven to be wrong more than they have been right, and get back to common sense decision making.
I am sorry for the long winded blog today, and just want to end with a link to a Johnny Cash video.
I believe the message to be inspiring, an we all need a little hope and inspiration these days!