“… even areas that [stemmed their outbreaks] so well originally as people thought now are realizing that unless you can completely suppress this virus, it’s gonna come back, and it’s gonna keep coming back as long as you have susceptible people.” – Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director, University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, April 3, 2020
This is the week that the first major surge of COVID-19 patients in California was projected to need intensive hospital care. For some communities, the change in health care needs is imperceptible; in others, it is marked, as hospitals race to save lives.
While this surge in some places seems to be not as severe as initially projected, a sign that the early guidance on physical distancing may be effective in flattening the curve on COVID-19, now is not the time to exhale. Epidemiologists suggest that this virus could strike in waves, and if we take any early success for granted, subsequent surges will be even worse.
Even with a reduced spread over time, there is still the potential for millions of Californians to contract COVID-19, and that means hundreds of thousands still may need the acute care services that only hospitals can provide.
With that, the herculean efforts of hospitals over the past month to convert physical space, partner with the state to obtain personal protective equipment, and ensure that front-line health care workers are ready to meet the needs before us, provides some measure of assurance.
Not because there are any guarantees in the work we do, but rather because it’s clear that when lives are on the line, every hospital in California has the ability to dig deep, to find more where there is none, to scrap and scrape whatever’s needed — to deliver care to those in need.
This is hard. This will be harder in the weeks to come. Thank you for all you do, and all you’re going to do for Californians.