May 6, 2020 Coronavirus Diary

 Okay, I accidentally gave you guys a break in the updates. I’m sure that you missed me. I was going to release one on May Day, especially because it happened on Tequila Friday. Alas, the tequila struck a little early and lasted a little late. 

Then, I was aiming for Cinco de Mayo de Coronavirus. Yet again, there was the need to salute the day with tequila and I missed that self-imposed deadline too. What the heck is going on?! 

Well, I haven’t just been laying around. I’ve been working on a post for Thursday which is a special day for our family. It’s the day that our dad passed away, now five years ago. I hope that you have a chance to read it tomorrow morning. 

Now, to catch up on the virus…

“Everyone feels missing from our lives right now.”

Meaningful words from a former colleague and still friend of mine who tried to put our aloneness right now into words. We spoke yesterday, just connecting and catching up. Like almost all of the Channel 2 staffers, she has been working from home since March. So has her husband. And, so have her two kids. In order to make it work for everyone, they divided up the house into four quadrants to give each other space to do their “homework.” It’s quite the zoo and no one is happier than the dog. He’s never alone.

Changing how you see your Doctor

I took advantage of Julie’s tele-health appointment yesterday with our long time GP to horn in as they were wrapping up to ask him some questions about COVID-19. Here’s what I learned from him:

The virus is still out there. Do not take it for granted. 

  • At their offices, they are doing everything they can to keep the number of people down inside the office at any given time. No COVID or potentially COVID patients come in to the office. If a non-COVID patient needs to come in, they must use the mobile check in, alert the office that they have arrived and are in their car in the parking lot. They will wait in their car to be called when they can be seen. No one sits around in the office. They’ve eliminated check out.
  • Prior to COVID-19, Tele-health did not take off for multiple reasons, not the least of which is that doctors historically are slow to adopt new ways of doing business. Ironic in that their world of medicine is the most modern of sciences. But there are four other very good reasons: 
    1. Medicare doesn’t reimburse doctors for it, so the doctors don’t get paid for their tele-health time with Medicare patients. This, he says, is being reconsidered by Medicare officials.
    2. In his practice, like most, doctors are required to see a certain number of patients face-to-face each day. For those doctors who did adopt tele-health practices, they generally did that before or after their very full day at the office. Most weren’t interested in extending their already long day. 
    3. The internet setup requires a security protected HIPPA compliant platform, which costs money. That’s what our doctor uses and just prior to the scheduled meeting, the office emails the patient a secure link. The government has issued a waiver on this due to the virus but there are still requirements that must be met. 
  • Interestingly, doctors feel more accountable to being on time for tele-health appointments, so if you do schedule one, it’s likely to be right on the time scheduled versus our long waits in the office…reading those old magazines. 
  • It takes 72 full compliments of PPE (face shield, N95 mask, gloves and gown per COVID patients per day. 72!! With an average time in the hospital being two weeks, that’s just over 1,000 sets of PPE per COVID patient. 
  • By rule, for medical use, N95 masks are to be discarded after 8 hours. However,  a new powdered treatment extending the life of N95s for seven days has been approved. He told me that, for personal use, I can wear mine until the smell overcomes me.
  • The swab COVID tests are rated 50-80% sensitive. A negative response (thank goodness) does NOT mean that you aren’t or haven’t been infected (oh crap!) If you’ve had symptoms, irrespective of a negative result, you should assume positive.
  • The current antibody test will tell if you’ve been exposed or had the disease. It’s 100% sensitive. But it can be a false positive too and and it is too early to say if you are or are not immune going forward. Best to assume that you are not and protect yourself and others.
  • Medical practices and hospitals are businesses that pretty much operate on a zero sum annual reset. Every year they restart from zero. They don’t really have the financial war chest capacity to purchase a large store of emergency needs like PPE and incubators and just hold on to them for a pandemic.
  • He’s lucky in that his practice partnered with a large Atlanta-based practice years ago. He and all of the rest of the staff are getting paid during this time in which they are seeing much, much fewer patients every day, thus bringing in much less revenue. He believes that many smaller, private practices will go under because they don’t have the wherewithal to withstand this extended shutdown. The practice of medicine has always seen the future of its business as necessary and steady.

It’s beyond irony that it is a health crisis that could put many healthcare providers out of business.  

My brother sent this link to me. It’s a State by state tracking of COVID-19


More time to listen while doing

As I’ve been working in the yard, I’ve been able to listen to more podcasts while digging or watering or even mowing (I have a reel mower, no engine, so it’s very quiet). And there are a plethora of newfound podcasts available spurred on by COVID-19. Even if they aren’t directly about the virus in theme, the time to create and produce them is the direct result of Coronavirus time. Creators have more time to create. And listeners have more time to, well, listen. I listened to one the other day about making cinnamon toast, the way the storyteller’s mother made it, and the joy in the taste of her past, and the memory of her mother was worth the calories. 

Another was by a Brit who works for the NYT. He told of the joy of both making and enjoying a good spot of tea. Frankly, they actually were interesting. I love cinnamon toast and I do like a good cup of tea. 

One particular episode that I highly recommend is on the podcast 99% Invisible, and it is called, “Masking for a Friend.” It is a fascinating background on how the idea to wear face masks to stave off spreading infection actually came into play, who was the brilliant person to make the connection to do so in the first place, and where it was first put into practice. 

And lastly, in a time of isolation, it doesn’t hurt to hear about it from one who embraces it. This episode, called “Alone at Sea,” is from the NYT’s podcast, The Daily, as part of its Sunday Read. It’s the contemporary tale of a 71 year old Polish man who has kayaked across the Atlantic three times. It’s an amazing story about why he would rush towards being the smallest speck on a seemingly endless ocean. 

My former colleague at Channel 2 sent me this article, NYT on Trump and the quick history of voter suppression I actually beg you to read it. It paints the big picture of the long history of “fixing” elections, usually by the those claiming to be protecting the election from voter fraud. 

And with all of that, and as the temperature goes down, I hope that you’ll see my post tomorrow and read it. It’s called “Homerisms.”

So, stay safe, stay home and stay warm!

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