COVID 19 – Hysteria???

Lions and Tigers and COVID…oh my!


So, I’m a lung and ICU doctor…today that translates to a lot of people wanting my opinion pertaining to the impact of COVID 19. Let me preface this short post by stating even though I am a specialist, I am NOT an expert of COVID 19. Nothing in this post is intended to be advice or medical guidance. So don’t say…. “But Dr. Dale Said…”

The main question I seem to be getting is whether or not everyone is freaking out for no reason. Is this mass hysteria or appropriate precaution? Schools are closing, the NBA has suspended it’s season, and worst of all…it’s so hard to find TOILET PAPER! Why is everyone tripping!!!!

In brief, my answer to the question is NO, we are not over exaggerating the situation. People who disagree with that stance use Influenza as a key argument. Yes, the flu has killed a lot more people, but at least we have a general idea of what we’re dealing with there.

COVID 19 stands for Coronavirus Disease 2019. The virus that causes it, coronavirus, is commonly thought of as your typical cold. Yes, it is VERY likely that you have had a strain of coronavirus in your life. As a matter of fact, you’ve likely had coronavirus multiple times. But you probably (well, some of you reading this may have had it by now) haven’t had SARS-CoV2. This is simply the name given to this specific coronavirus that we’re dealing with at the current moment.

If you’re watching the news and you’re a relatively young and healthy individual, you may be thinking, even if I get it, I’ll be fine, so what’s the fuss about? I’ll tell you what the fuss is about. Our elderly individuals in society and those with underlying health conditions may not be fine. These “hysterical” precautions we’re taking are in large part to protect these populations. And as a society, we’re all linked. 

So it these groups take a huge hit, we ALL take a huge hit. I’ve seen some individuals make flippant and sarcastic comments about the entire situation. My response to that is we need to be sensitive to our fellow humans and ensure we are doing all we can to protect everyone.

A second reason our massive response to tackling COVID 19 is appropriate is we must buy time to prepare our healthcare systems for large influx of patients we may see as a result of this disease. This is a particularly unique situation because not only will the number of patients increase, the number of healthcare workers will decrease as a result of many of them becoming infected with SARS-CoV2. Even if these healthcare workers are asymptomatic, they’ll still be forced to take time off from work in order to ensure they do not spread the infection. By and large, I believe most healthcare systems across the country are NOT prepared for this. That being the case, whatever we as a community can do to slow the progression would be beneficial for our medical infrastructure nationwide.

Finally, there is a school of thought that by slowing down the progression, we can buy time and allow for seasonal change. Many viruses are seasonal and some believe that as we enter spring and summer, SARS-CoV2 may begin to fade away. As this is our first known encounter with this virus, we cannot be certain, but can be hopeful.

There is NO need to panic, but PLEASE take appropriate precautions, to ensure we’re all doing our part to care and show love to those who are at greatest risk to having negative outcomes from COVID 19.

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Stephen Noble

Dr. Dale, great article. As a cardiothoracic surgeon the flu season is always a particular time of the year in which we tend to get busy being called upon to evaluate patients for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation or ECMO. Basically putting patients on a heart-lung machine to allow their lungs to recover. I have treated several young patients who have had the flu and needed to be put on such. With Covid-19 the concern is even greater for the healthcare system to be pushed to its limits, especially because it seems like we got caught with our pants down. I believe the heightened awareness, concern and yes hysteria by some is quite appropriate given we have not encountered such a virus like this before. Given what our colleagues in Italy are facing, I am concerned for how we will handle such a crisis. Especially because in America we love our individual freedoms and such freedoms have to be limited for the sake of society. Dr. Daniel Hail Williams, the first person to perform a successful open heart surgery and a black man stated “A people that don’t make provisions for their own sick and suffering are not worthy of civilization.” In this time of Covid-19 and other healthcare crises that are looming will we as America be worthy of civilization?

9 months ago

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Stephen Noble

Dr. Dale, great article. As a cardiothoracic surgeon the flu season is always a particular time of the year in which we tend to get busy being called upon to evaluate patients for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation or ECMO. Basically putting patients on a heart-lung machine to allow their lungs to recover. I have treated several young patients who have had the flu and needed to be put on such. With Covid-19 the concern is even greater for the healthcare system to be pushed to its limits, especially because it seems like we got caught with our pants down. I believe the heightened awareness, concern and yes hysteria by some is quite appropriate given we have not encountered such a virus like this before. Given what our colleagues in Italy are facing, I am concerned for how we will handle such a crisis. Especially because in America we love our individual freedoms and such freedoms have to be limited for the sake of society. Dr. Daniel Hail Williams, the first person to perform a successful open heart surgery and a black man stated “A people that don’t make provisions for their own sick and suffering are not worthy of civilization.” In this time of Covid-19 and other healthcare crises that are looming will we as America be worthy of civilization?

9 months ago

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Gregory Proctor

Dr. Dale thank you for posting this. Although, I am on the front lines in the pre-hospital setting I gained on perspective on the matter. Again, thank you.

9 months ago