For the first time I had a meeting cancel due to a COVID-19 death. The depth of sadness I feel for those impacted right now is something I can feel, but I can’t describe. This was definitely a wake up call for me.
I’m not a doctor and I can’t provide care to others but I do feel like I have an oddly weird view of the world right now. I’m watching the most intelligent people I follow and read react in a new way. They are self isolating because we now have enough data to know what to do. 2 weeks ago that same group was doing everything as-normal. That has completely flipped. They are now using their time distributing information the rest of us don’t have yet or don’t have a good view of yet.
I’m over the hurdle of believing that Shelter-in-place is something the midwest needs to move to immediately to stop the spread of this thing. The best view of this that I’ve seen that makes this spread easier to understand it’s impact on you, and on us in Iowa, is on Covid Act Now.
It’s easy to see why it feels like things are mostly normal. We’re still in an acceptable range of hospitalizations but the behavior we demonstrate now will either help or massively hurt our communities and loved ones in the coming weeks.
What this graph doesn’t consider is where the actual beds are or what percentage of them have respiratory support. We now have data and professional insights that tell us that the difference between some deaths and unthinkably large numbers of deaths is our behavior over the next week/days.
As if that’s not bad enough, rural Iowa and midwest support systems are even more poorly suited to handle this. What if 1000 people need a bed in a town of 2500? What if 500 of them can’t get respirators and what if the median age of that town weighs largely on the older side? The picture could get incredibly dim in a matter of weeks. Bad planning could result in a town being decimated.
It’s hard not to see the benefit of moving to shelter in place and following others even if it’s simply as a protection measure.
I’m a pretty healthy person in my 30s. My family is also healthy and while the optimist in me says we will all be fine I think we need to start assuming that’s not true. While progress won’t stop, markets won’t stop, and yes we will get through this… You can see plenty of people out and about like it’s no big deal. We’ve hit a point where we need the state to step in and announce shelter in place. I’m so hopeful this happens imminently so we never have to learn what the cost was of delaying the change.