We Can Fix Anything But Dead.
Updated: Apr 10
One of my favorite things to say to my kids - and yours, too, if they’ve spent any time hanging with us - is:
“Talk to me. I can fix anything but dead.”
This is my way of nudging them to talk early and often. It is also my way of framing things for them: Nothing is so bad – nothing you’ve done, nothing you’re thinking, nothing you’ve broken/lost/forgotten, nothing you’ve gotten yourself into THIS time – NOTHING is so bad that I won’t and can’t help fix it.
America. We can fix anything but dead.
We can fix the economy. We have before. And if we’re smart and strategic and civic-minded about it, we will build something stronger and more sustainable for every American. If this crisis is showing us anything, it is that the social fabric and safety net for the majority was so frayed that it couldn’t withstand any kind of stress test. We will build something better.
We can fix missed school. Our children will catch up in their learning. (I may never catch up on the laundry, but they will catch up in their learning…). And maybe, just maybe, one of the big lessons in all this will be to #TrustTeachers. The response from our educators to the chaos has, on more than one occasion, brought me to happy tears. With literally NO advance warning, schools shuttered. Within 48 hours I saw teachers figuring out a myriad of ways to reach and connect with their students. Districts figuring out how to continue feeding kids. Test scores are gonna be sh*t this year, and maybe, JUST MAYBE, we’ll finally start to figure out that it always always ALWAYS has been the very worst way to evaluate kids and teachers anyway….
We can fix lost wages and income. Congress is still out there chattering for the cameras, but behind closed doors they’re working together. They don’t agree on everything – they may not even agree on most things – but they do agree that this is a national emergency that requires a national intervention. And I’m happy, delighted, thrilled! to see my tax dollars used to support small business AND their employees through this time.
We CAN and WILL fix our healthcare system. For too long, for TOO MANY DECADES, we’ve let the power in healthcare decision making be stripped from physicians, who actually take care of people, and be concentrated in the hands of those driven by profits and margins. Expect that when this is done, Physicians will have had exactly #Enough.
What we cannot fix is dead.
My colleague Dr. Aimee Marguerite has been painstakingly gathering and graphing data as it becomes available. Yesterday I asked her to take a look at Illinois, specifically, and she did a comparison between us and Ohio. Both our states took early action to mandate #RadicalSocialDistancing, and very (VERY) early data suggest that these efforts show promise in helping to #FlattenTheCurve. We need more time and more data, but it is a glimmer of hope. I’ve put her analysis and links in the comments.
Doctors and public health professionals and virologists and epidemiologists and statisticians are all speaking with one voice: We must enact a #Suppression policy in every state, every county in America if we have any hope of getting ahead of this.
Many of you have seen the report from the COVID-19 response team at Imperial College in London. They plugged infection and death rate numbers into widely available epidemic modeling software and ran several simulations looking at what would happen if:
1) the United States did absolutely nothing (i.e. treat COVID-19 like the flu, business as usual, let the virus take its course)
2) the U.S. runs a Mitigation strategy (i.e. place all symptomatic cases in isolation, quarantine families for 14 days, orders all Americans over 70 to practice social distancing)
3) the U.S. runs #Suppressionstrategy
A Suppression strategy means that, in addition to isolating symptomatic cases and quarantining their family members, we implement aggressive#SocialDistancingfor the entire population. Shelter in place orders are the foundation of a suppression strategy.
Of the three strategies listed above, SUPPRESSION provides us with the lowest death rate by at least an order of magnitude. It gives physicians, nurses and hospitals a fighting chance to get COVID care operationalized and diminishes the overwhelm of our ERs, ICU beds and ventilators. Radically #FlatteningTheCurve saves lives (please look at the wonderful graphic in the comments to drive home this point).
Let me be clear on this point: We MUST slow the spread of this pandemic. We MUST flatten the curve. We do not have enough ICU beds. We do not have enough ventilators. We do not have nearly enough PPE – NOT NEARLY ENOUGH - (personal protective equipment) to keep our doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers safe. We do not have a vaccine, an effective antiviral or a cure. All we have is us. What WE do - or do not do - in the days to come can change the trajectory of this.
How long are we going to have to practice #PatrioticIntroversion? The quick answer is an ever-so-satisfying, “I don't know.”
I’m sorry folks. That is the truth, though: We. Don’t. Know.
I do know it’s more than a week. It is more than two weeks. (Everyone take a breath now) IT MAY BE MORE THAN A MONTH.
Gloriously, we have open borders between states in this country. Ingloriously, that means if Illinois gets ahead of COVID19, lifts the shelter in place order, and we then start traveling back and forth to other places, people will again start coming home infected, and we have just undone everything we accomplished. I’m not interested in building a wall around IL, so let us choose to work together as Americans and get this done.
American Individualism has always been a cornerstone of our national identity, but at this moment in history now we are called to something bigger than self.
#Staythehellhome isn’t a typical call to action, and it isn’t a terribly satisfying one, either. Americans like to face the enemy, kick its ass and know the faces of the lives we’ve saved. Its frustrating that we can’t pick a street fight with this virus, but please know this: Just because you can't SEE the battle, doesn't mean it isn't happening.
We WILL find a vaccine, a treatment, a cure. We will.
But we desperately need to Buy Us Time.
Please, keep staying the hell home. Please do your part to buy doctors and nurses more time. Please do your part as an American to take care of others.
We can fix anything but dead.
Be patient, be gracious, be generous and be kind, always.