Opinion | Hospitals Struggling to Meet the Covid Surge

To the Editor:

Re “The Contacts of My Contacts” (column, Nov. 22):

As an emergency physician in an area being hit hard by Covid-19, I believe that Farhad Manjoo’s flawed logic will cause people to die.

Mr. Manjoo thinks the risks of traveling and dining with extended family on Thanksgiving are “worth it.” But these risks extend far beyond his family. Each time someone interacts with people outside his or her personal bubble, the probability of getting the virus — and initiating a cluster of cases — increases.

Just a few cases can set off an irreversible chain of events that culminates in hospitals filling up, without enough staff or resources to care for all the sick people. In my hospital, we’re frantically calling other facilities to see if they can take patients. E.M.S. workers drive hours trying to get patients to a hospital.

Data suggests that behavior like Mr. Manjoo’s will cause these heroic frontline workers significant risk by spending more hours in vehicles transporting Covid patients.

Mr. Manjoo should listen to health experts and stay home this Thanksgiving. We’ll have plenty to celebrate when we finally control this virus.

Rob Davidson
Spring Lake, Mich.
The writer is executive director of the Committee to Protect Medicare.

To the Editor:

I have been asked — no, begged — by my state licensing agency to come out of retirement to help alleviate the critical shortage of nurses needed to care for the burgeoning number of Covid patients. I want to help. I think it’s my civic and patriotic duty. I have nightmares thinking I might be a patient who won’t get care if the health system doesn’t have adequate numbers of registered nurses and other workers.

But I get chills committing to help someone without adequate personal protective equipment to keep me safe. P.P.E. is in critically short supply. Why? Because President Trump has refused to vigorously use the Defense Production Act, which would allow the government to order companies to switch from making their consumer goods to making adequate equipment to keep workers and patients safe. Who can bring pressure on our president to make a very simple decision that would save people’s lives?

My heart is being torn by conscience and reason. I can’t return to work in an environment that endangers my life, and potentially other lives, no matter how much my heart hurts.

Rebecca Marcus

To the Editor:

Unfortunately, your uplifting article “The Coronavirus Saved My Life” (Sunday Review, Nov. 15), about a woman whose lung cancer was detected when she went to an urgent care clinic for a coronavirus test, would almost certainly be found to be the exception rather than the rule across our country.

In December 2019, my sweet precious wife, age 87, suddenly became ill. Local physicians found no cause. We went to the Mayo Clinic in January and March, but negative scans and biopsies revealed no diagnosis. Her stay ended in March because the clinic needed to focus on Covid-19 patients.

Back in San Antonio, also overwhelmed by Covid, further tests revealed no answer. She passed away undiagnosed and untreated two months later.

Physicians were bombarded by Covid because of the neglect of our government. Post-mortem, a brilliant physician from another institution made the diagnosis of a rare disease, hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, or HLH. Though it was treatable, the diagnosing researcher told me, possibly out of kindness, that it was unlikely she could have survived.

I’m certain a huge number of patients have received less treatment than would have been offered under normal circumstances. I believe that my dear wife was the rule rather than the exception. After more than five months I spend only rare days not in tears.

Herbert H. Keyser
San Antonio
The writer is a retired obstetrician.

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