It used to be the reverse.
So when you’re frustrated about the social distance and the masks and all the rest of it and you develop an unstoppable urge to go unprotected into a large group of people and live the way you did back in January, you should first watch this video a CNN team shot inside United Memorial Medical Center in Houston.
“A lot of what we saw is what we have seen in other places. But it is here now,” said CNN’s Miguel Marquez, who reported the story.
It’s going to be a lot more places. The number of infections is growing in 31 states, and there’s been a huge surge from Memorial Day, when the disease appeared to be on the decline in most of the the US. Now states are hitting pause on reopening.
Europe and other regions continue to seem like they’re getting Covid under control.
The US is clearly losing it. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on CNN over the weekend that the window to control the virus is closing.
CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta said Monday that on Memorial Day, the virus seemed localized in specific parts of the country, whereas now it is affecting the entire US.
What happened in New York is now happening elsewhere. The 117-bed hospital Marquez visited in Houston will soon be full. The video begins with images of doctors and nurses completely wrapped in PPE. They’re changing out the breathing tube of a patient on a ventilator.
It’s rare to see something so graphic on TV. It’s rare for hospitals to let cameras inside. Marquez talked to a doctor who says he’s been working for 100 days straight. He said they’ve learned a lot about how to treat the disease, and it’s evolved.
They treated it differently four months ago than they treated it two months ago and they’re treating it differently today. The goal above all else is to keep the patients well enough that they don’t need to go on a ventilator. At that point, their chances of leaving the hospital drop to 20%.
Entire sections of the hospital have been transformed into a sort of airtight chamber with negative pressure zones. Nobody gets in without an instant test. And once inside, everyone is so wrapped in PPE, they’re unrecognizable and they wear large photos of themselves around their necks.
Just one nurse at the facility has gotten sick. She broke down talking about the two daughters she can’t see right now.
Marquez also talked to a man named Muhamad who owns two nightclubs in Houston, but who is now fighting for his life in the hospital. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says he regrets letting bars in the state open up so early and shut them down again this past weekend.
This is why so many states — at least 14 — are reversing or pausing on plans to open.
People who seem healthy are spreading disease. Marquez also talked to a husband and wife who said they did everything they were supposed to — staying home, wearing masks and keeping their distance from others.
“It is a little bit scary. I wish that people would take it more seriously,” said the wife, who is sharing a hospital room with her husband. Neither wanted their name used. “They should take it more seriously. You can’t — you can’t trust people just because they look healthy. Because a lot of people are walking around looking healthy and they are not healthy.”
Masks are like seat belts, only more so
Still confused about masks and why doctors have evolved to now recommend them in public places? CNN’s Holly Yan breaks it down under a blunt headline: “Want to prevent another shutdown, save 33,000 lives and protect yourself? Wear a face mask, doctors say.”
More cities requiring masks, including the one hosting parts of RNC. Jacksonville, Florida, has joined the growing list of US cities requiring a mask in public.
That’s also important because it’s where portions of the Republican National Convention will now take place.
President Donald Trump still sees masks as optional. It is, as ever, a matter of personal choice, not public safety for him.
“It is the personal choice of any individual as to whether to wear a mask or not,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Monday. “He encouraging people to make whatever decision is best for their safety but he did say to me he has no problem with masks and to do whatever your local jurisdiction requests of you.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged Trump to sign an executive order to require masks in public in the US. That seems unlikely since Trump remains afraid of being photographed in one.
Mitigation vs. a cure
Everything we’re all doing right now — the masks and the distance — are meant to delay, not defeat, the virus.
What will ultimately beat Covid-19 is a vaccine. But it won’t be effective if people won’t get it.
Dr. Anthony Fauci talked to CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen and estimated the likely vaccine efficacy rate would be 70% to 75%, and would not offer herd immunity:
A CNN poll last month found one-third of Americans said they would not try to get vaccinated against Covid, even if the vaccine is widely available and low cost.
In an interview Friday, CNN asked Fauci whether a vaccine with 70% to 75% efficacy taken by only two-thirds of the population would provide herd immunity to the coronavirus.
“No — unlikely,” he answered.