How I See the Coronavirus

A letter from Sallie Permar

As a global community, we are facing the greatest acute challenge of our lifetimes. The situation faced by hospitals currently in hotspots of transmission is horrific. NY hospital pleas for trained personnel around the country to join patient care teams is quite unprecedented. First responders and health care workers are starting to take some of the heaviest tolls. The race for novel treatments and vaccines was never more dire.  The US just surpassed China in number of cases, number of deaths will follow. We will all remember the actions we took during this pandemic, how we responded, what our children observed, and how we contributed.

My rounds on the pediatric wards is eerily a bit quiet at the moment, with elective cases cancelled and the remarkable efforts by providers to keep most patients with chronic disease at home. But the unspoken message is clear: we are bracing for impact. We are watching Louisiana, Michigan, Florida, and knowing we are not immune. Innovation is at work: new policies on infection control, PPE reuse, and workforce reinforcements are coming out daily. My work on the vaccine front has become more focused as a part of the large goal of stopping this pandemic with an effective vaccine: we must assess novel coronavirus vaccines across the age spectrum, as we see more clearly now that it is not just elderly who are so severely affected. Many potential therapies are becoming available, but each must be carefully tested in human studies, each can have as much harm as benefit. Collaboration is of the essence.

The good news is that your most important contribution is simple: stay home.  Now is not the time for playdates, not the time for dinner parties. Take a neighbor up on their offer to get your groceries. As our area goes under a shelter-in-place order, limit your interactions with others to only those required for your basic needs of obtaining food and medicines. Be grateful to essential persons who must still go out and work to maintain our society. Prepare yourself for the marathon that this will be, take care of your mental health by getting exercise, setting up those virtual touch points. Make contributions to the food bank, meals on wheels, child abuse prevention programs, and other nonprofits addressing the growing needs of this era. And when the SARS-CoV2 vaccine is available in your area and to your age group: get it.