Take Coronavirus Seriously

Geez… Talk about a crazy couple of weeks. Whether you are an entrepreneur or not, the last two weeks have had a hell of an impact on life, yet somehow, there are still people failing to take this virus seriously. I’m going to be honest… I was pissed. I wasn’t pissed because the virus was/is putting extreme financial strain on my businesses, I was pissed because some people weren’t taking this virus seriously. But then, as I took a quick outdoor walk with my wife (don’t worry, we live in the country where there is plenty of social distancing), I realized the only reason people are failing to take this virus seriously is because they aren’t looking at the data or the real stories from our medical frontliners.

 

So I figured I’d do my part to explain why I believe it’s a big deal to socially distance and continue to help our frontline medical staffers get through these tough times.

 

Why I take Coronavirus seriously.

 

I’ll start with the selfish reason: When I was in high school I got pretty darn sick. I actually got sick enough that I spent most of my Senior year at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota receiving tests and treatments. Life was unique, and without getting into the details of what went on, it left me as a 26-year-old who is compromised when it comes to scary viruses (that made me sound childish). That doesn’t mean I’d die if I got the coronavirus, but it does mean I’d potentially get very, very sick like millions of other people around the world and put added strain on the healthcare system. Therefore, selfishly I’m doing my part to socially distance for the sake of my wife, my family and other individuals that need hospital beds much more than me.

 

The second reason: My Father (who also happens to be my hero), is a doctor, medical director, and president of his medical practice, which means, he’s had some tough decisions to make over the past several weeks on exactly how to prepare for the coronavirus spread. I’ve witnessed first hand, how hard our medical staffers are working to make sure each of us get the medical attention we need if/when the virus spreads to our part of the world (we live in Minnesota). Sadly, other locations aren’t nearly as lucky and that is why we must flatten the curve.

 

Here are some stats for you.

 

On March 24, 2020, these are the real numbers the world is currently dealing with:

  • Total Coronavirus Cases Worldwide: 417,676 PEOPLE
  • Total Deaths Worldwide: 18,605 PEOPLE
  • Recovered Worldwide: 108,312 PEOPLE
  • Total Cases In The U.S.: 53,013 PEOPLE
  • Total U.S. Deaths: 685 PEOPLE
  • Total Recovered: 370 PEOPLE
These numbers are pretty shocking when you consider the scale in which this thing is growing. To put it into perspective, it took three months for the first 100,000 cases, 11 days for the next 100,000 cases, 4 days for the third 100,000 cases, and 3 days for the fourth 100,000 cases. That’s a pretty dramatic spread and believe it or not, it’s knocking on your front door.
 

No More Drama

 

Sorry for getting a little bit dramatic in the previous paragraph, I just wanted to make it real. I’ll skip the drama for a moment and share a few quotes that I want each of you to digest prior to living your day-to-day lives like “normal”. By the way, each of these quotes are from March 24, things will have changed if you read this in the not so distant future.

 

Peak Number of cases is still 2 to 3 weeks away in New York.

"We've procured about 7,000 ventilators. We need, as a minimum, another 30,000 ventilators. This is a critical and desperate need for ventilators [..] We need them in 14 days. FEMA is sending 400 ventilators only. Federal action is needed to address this now through the Federal Defense Production Act"

"The numbers are higher in New York because it started here first, it has a lot of international travelers and has high density, but you will see this in cities all across the country, and in suburban communities. Where we are today, you'll be in 4 weeks or 6 weeks."

"A day in the life of a ER Doc - A Brief Dispatch from the COVID19 Frontline:

Wake up at 6:30am. Priority is making a big pot of coffee for the whole day, because the place by the hospital is closed. The Starbucks too. It's all closed.

On the walk, it feels like Sunday. No one is out. Might be the freezing rain or it's early. Regardless, it's good to see people social distancing and staying in.

Walk in for my 8am shift: Immediately struck by how the calm early morning streets are transformed to bright fluorescent lights that are reflected off of everyone's protective goggles. There is a cacophony of coughing. I stop. I mask up. I walk in. I take the sign out from the previous team, but nearly every patient is the same, young or old:

Cough, shortness of breath, fever.

They are really worried about one patient. Very short of breath, on the maximum amount of oxygen we can give, but is still breathing fast.

I immediately assess the patient. It's clear what this is, and what needs to happen. I have a long and honest discussion with the patient and family over the phone. It's best to put her on life support now, before things get much worse. I'm getting set up for that, but... I'm notified of another really sick patient coming in. I rush over. They're also extremely sick, vomiting. They need to be put on life support as well. I bring them back. Two patients, in rooms right next to each other, both getting a breathing tube and it's not even 10am yet.

For the rest of my shift, nearly every hour, I get paged:
Stat notification: Very sick patient, short of breath, fever. Oxygen 88%.
Stat notification: Low blood pressure, short of breath, low oxygen.
Stat notification: Low oxygen, can't breath. Fever.

All day...

Sometime in the afternoon I recognize I haven't drank any water. I'm afraid to take off the mask. It's the only thing that protects me. Surely I can last a little longer - in West Africa during Ebola, I spent hours in a hot suit without water. One more patient...

By late afternoon, I need to eat. Restaurants across the street are closed. Right, everything is closed. But thankfully the hospital cafeteria is open. I grab something, wash my hands (twice), cautiously take off my mask, & eat as fast as I can. Go back. Mask up. Walk in.

Nearly everyone I see today is the same. We assume everyone is a COVID-19. We wear gowns, goggles, and masks at every encounter. All day. It's the only way to be safe. Where did all the heart attacks and appendicitis patients go? It's all COVID.

When your shift ends, you sign out to the oncoming team. It's all COVID-19. Over the past week, I've learned the signs - low oxygen, lymphopenia, elevated D-dimer. I then share concerns with my friends about hospitals running out of ventilators... Before I leave, I wipe EVERYTHING down. My phone. My badge. My wallet. My coffee mug. All of it. Drown it in bleach. Everything in a bag. Taking no chances.

Am I sure I got it all??? I wipe it down again. I can't be too careful.

I walk out and take off my mask. I feel naked and exposed. It's still raining, but I want to walk home. Feels safer than the subway or bus, plus I need to decompress.

The streets are empty. It feels nothing like what is happening inside. Maybe people don't know???

I get home. I strip in the hallway (it's okay, my neighbors know what I do). I put everything in a bag. My wife tries to keep my toddler away, but she hasn't seen me in days, so it's really hard. I run to the shower. Rinse it all away. Never happier. Time for family.

I reflect on the fact that it's really hard to understand how bad this is - and how bad it's going to be - if all everyone sees is empty streets.

Hospitals are nearing capacity. We are running out of ventilators. Ambulance sirens don't stop. Everyone we see today was infected a week ago, or more. The numbers will undoubtedly skyrocket overnight, as they have every night in the past few days. More will come to the ER. More will be stat notifications. More will be put on a ventilator.

We were too late to stop this virus. Full stop. But we can slow it's spread. The virus can't infect those it never meets. Stay inside. Social distancing is the only thing that will save us now. I don't care as much about the economic impact as I do about our ability to save lives.

You might hear people saying it isn't real. It is.

You might hear people saying it isn't bad. It is.

You might hear people saying it can't take you down. It can.

I survived Ebola. I fear COVID-19.

And every day I'll come to work for you."

Take Coronavirus Seriously

 

Whether you choose to take it seriously for your grandparents, your parents, yourself, or for our doctors; the world needs you to step up and do your part to flatten the curve. This site is designed for entrepreneurs, which means, as an entrepreneur you’re meant to be a leader. Figure out a way to help people do their jobs while social distancing, so doctors like Craig Spencer can do his.

 

BE WELL. BE SAFE. AND KEEP YOUR HEAD HELD HIGH.

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