The following letter about COVID-19 that was written by a Toronto doctor who is head of ICU at Michael Garron Hospital:
I am writing this message to you as a Critical Care Physician with grave concerns about the impact COVID-19 could have on you and everyone you know. I have challenged all of my physician colleagues (many of whom are copied on this message) to send a similar message to their network.
We have lessons to learn from the experience of Italy. Hospitals in the wealthy, industrialized area around Milan cannot offer life support to patients over 65 as they don’t have enough ventilators. Without radical changes to our community behaviour, we may be in the same situation. COVID-19 is an impending North American healthcare CRISIS, which has the very real potential to strain our healthcare systems well beyond capacity.
Some people continue to downplay the risk of the current situation. Regardless of what you are reading or politicians are saying, I simply want you to know that the COVID-19 situation is dire and may soon be completely out of control.
Healthcare resources are finite, and thus we will not be able to provide care for all who become ill. In addition to COVID-19-related deaths, there will be collateral damage among patients who need care for other, treatable ailments, and will be unable to receive it.
Governments are taking a reactive approach and failing to mandate the necessary, proactive steps to slow the progress of the virus. Fortunately, you can do something to help.
The only hope to slow the virus is based on community behaviour – that’s you, your neighbour, your family…everyone. Begin social distancing NOW – do not wait for a politician to tell you it is necessary.
This only works if started early and taken very seriously. This means avoid ALL close contact with people unless necessary.
o Never shake hands and wash your hands frequently
o Cancel/avoid all travel
o Close schools, universities, day-cares and businesses that aggregate people in close proximity
o Avoid contact with those 65+, especially those who are frail and those with chronic diseases
o Don’t attend any large gatherings, sporting events (local and professional), religious services
o Work from home whenever possible
Only by everyone’s working collectively can we hope to change the trajectory of this pandemic. The current risk to the individual remains low, but the risk to society is immeasurable. I implore you to follow these recommendations to slow the spread of the virus.
Forward this email to everyone you know, then email your Mayor/MP/MPP/Congress person to say you support decisive action NOW.
Amplify this #COVID19 message on twitter and retweet my challenge to physicians to spread this message @drmwarner
Sincerely, Michael Warner, MD, FRCPC, MBA Critical Care Physician