A council representing more than 800,000 doctors across the U.S. signed a letter Friday imploring President Donald Trump to reverse his call for businesses to reopen by April 12, warning that the president’s flouting of the guidance of public health experts could jeopardize the health of millions of Americans and throw hospitals into even more chaos as they fight the coronavirus pandemic.
The Council of Medical Specialty Societies—a coalition comprised of such physicians’ groups as the American College of Emergency Physicians, the Society of Critical Care Medicine, and the American College of Preventive Medicine—called for the president’s leadership in encouraging Americans to continue practicing social distancing to slow the spread of the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19.
This statement from 800,000 physicians asks Trump to not lift social distancing restrictions until public health and medical experts properly assess because it would "gravely jeopardize the health of all Americans and extend the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic." pic.twitter.com/j3GifOvSou
— Jenna Amatulli (@ohheyjenna) March 27, 2020
“Significant COVID-19 transmission continues across the United States, and we need your leadership in supporting science-based recommendations on social distancing that can slow the virus,” the council wrote. “Statewide efforts alone will not sufficiently control this public health crisis.”
While governors and mayors across the country have issued shelter-in-place orders to the public and warned their communities that it could take several weeks of vigilance—with restaurants and schools closed and many people leaving home only for essentials—in order to “flatten the curve” and slow the spread of the virus, Trump said Monday he wants businesses across the country to reopen by Easter.
“You’ll have packed churches all over our country. I think it would be a beautiful time,” Trump said this week about his target of Easter, interpreted by some as a nod to evangelical Christian voters. Last weekend the president also suggested that the “cure” of temporarily shutting down businesses would be “worse than the disease,” which has killed more than 1,500 Americans so far and has sickened nearly 100,000.
Following the president’s statements, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, a right-wing Republican, suggested social distancing measures are a matter of partisanship and represent a cultural divide between conservatives and liberals.
“Y’all, we are not California, we’re not New York,” Ivey told reporters about her decision to keep Alabama’s economy running.
This coming Tuesday Trump is expected to give more details about his plans to reopen the economy after just 15 days of social distancing implemented by the White House.
In its letter the council wrote that rather than treating the pandemic as a partisan issue, Trump must follow the guidance of public health experts and encourage all Americans to do the same.
“A strong nationwide plan that supports and enforces social distancing—and recognizes that our health and our economy are inextricably linked—should remain in place until public health and medical experts indicate it can be lifted,” the letter reads.
“Federal, state, and local governments should only set a date for lifting nationwide social distancing restrictions consistent with assessments by public health and medical experts,” it continued. “Lifting restrictions sooner will gravely jeopardize the health of all Americans and extend the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Disturbing Video Shows Lung Damage in Coronavirus Patient
A disturbing new video shows the way that CoViD-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, damages the lungs of patients who were showing no symptoms, illustrating just how dangerous even mild cases of the disease can be.
George Washington University Hospital in Washington DC created the 360-degree imaging using computed tomography (CT) scans of the lungs of a 59-year-old man. The man was generally healthy, save for a history of high blood pressure.
He was asymptomatic until mere days before the scans were taken.
The yellow areas on both of the man’s lungs indicate where infection and inflammation is present. Scans of healthy lungs would contain no yellow. The video shows how the yellowing is spread throughout the lungs rather than in a localized area, indicating that the disease spreads rapidly.
Dr. Keith Mortman, chief of thoracic surgery at George Washington University Hospital, said:
“This is not a 70, 80-year-old immunosuppressed, diabetic patient. Other than high blood pressure, he has no other significant medical issues. This is a guy who’s minding his own business and gets it … if we were to repeat the 360VR images now, that is one week later, there is a chance that the infection and inflammatory process could be worse.”
As the lungs battle infection and inflammation, they effectively seal off those areas making it increasingly more difficult to send much needed oxygen into the bloodstream. It also rends the lungs less able to filter out carbon dioxide resulting in respiratory issues.
Dr. Mortman told CNN that the 59-year-old is now hooked up to a ventilator on its highest setting along with another machine tasked with oxygenating his blood.
“For these patients who essentially present in progressive respiratory failure, the damage to the lungs is rapid and widespread. Unfortunately, once damaged to his degree, the lungs can take a long time to heal. For approximately 2 to 4 percent of patients with CoViD-19, the damage is irreversible and they will succumb to the disease.”
As the coronavirus makes it way across the United States and hospitals fill with patients suffering from CoViD-19, more is being learned about the disease, how it attacks the lungs, and eventually kills infected patients.
Unfortunately, using scans such as this along with a host of anecdotal evidence is revealing that there may be a long-term impact on the bodies—most notably the lungs—of those who are infected with and recover from CoViD-19.
We need something better for risk stratification. CT scans for everyone? Japan is doing this for every patient even before doing the #COVID19 test
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) March 27, 2020
It may be years before we truly realize the impact of the this unprecedented global pandemic. But what is clear now is that additional diagnostic tests are needed in addition to early intervention, both of which appear to be hard to come by.
“I want people to see this and understand what this can do. People need to take this seriously,” Dr. Mortman said.