COVID-19: Putting the Disruptions in our Lives in Perspective

As an ICU doctor, it’s all about the graph below

I really understand why all this is happening, why authorities are canceling large events. It is really important that they do so.

It is a scary time right now. I share that fear, as well. I am a Critical Care physician, and I will be right in the line of fire if patients start showing up to our hospital with COVID-19. We are learning all that we can about the virus and what it does. We are learning best practices on how to adequately take care of these patients. Still, I am also a father and husband and son. I worry about my — or anyone in my family — getting this virus, especially my parents and my wife’s parents.

Delaying sports and other large gatherings are nothing in the big scheme of things if we can prevent overwhelming the healthcare system.

Protecting the healthcare system from the breaking point is of the utmost importance. If a huge spike of patients show up to the hospital critically ill from COVID-19 — because we as a society have not done what we are supposed to do — hospitals across the country will not be able to handle the load, as the red part of the graph shows. There are only about 1,000,000 hospital beds in the entire country (much less ICU beds). If even only 3 million people need hospitalization, the system will break.

NY Times featured Pulmonary and Critical Care Specialist | Physician Leader | Author and Blogger | His latest book is “Code Blue,” a medical thriller.

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