When entering our clinic, we are mandating all patients wear masks…but why?
To do our part…
You are right! Most of our allergy patients are young and healthy and yes, the statistics are weighted for your survival and in fact asymptomatic recovery. 35% of patients will contract Coronavirus and it will come and go without them even being aware that they ever had any interaction with this virus. Maybe they will have mistaken it for their worsening allergies. It will make Allergists like me look bad for a few weeks but my ego is the only thing that will suffer thankfully. Unfortunately, in walking around during the time they are shedding the virus, they spread Coronavirus to an estimated 3.8 others.
There is scientific evidence for a facial covering (JAMA 3/20/2020): JAMA recently published an article indicating that if the COVID 19 carrier was not wearing a mask, a healthy person nearby wearing a mask had a 70% chance of contracting the virus. If a COVID 19 carrier was wearing a mask, a healthy person nearby without a mask had a 5% chance of contracting the virus. Finally, if a COVID19 carrier was wearing a mask, a healthy person nearby wearing a mask had a 1.5% chance of contracting the virus. In summary, this entire process works best if everyone wears a mask and is actually counterproductive to our healthcare workers (and others trying to wear masks) when some believe they are exempt from wearing a mask.
However, our clinic is also full of patients with respiratory patients and patients with immune system issues. The immune system is the part of the body attacked by bacteria and viruses, like Influenza and Coronavirus. If the immune system is weakened, it allows these viruses, foreign to our body to take over.
You may be young and healthy but some of our patients have these “immune deficiencies” and other medical issues that make them prone to have a harder time overcoming Coronavirus. As well, it is very possible to silently take Coronavirus home to a beloved member of your family, some of whom may be more fragile than you, including the young and old.
The event we are trying desperately to prevent as medical personnel because it would be so tragic is having to decide who gets a ventilator and who does not. This truly sounds callus to me but it is part of classic critical care medicine and surge training. This will happen if our intensive care units are at capacity and we need to choose who will get a ventilator. Intensive care units are small so they can take the best care of the patients that are 100% dependent on them and they are used for other reasons as well, all very important, like cancer patients, heart attack victims, etc. Coronavirus patients typically need a ventilator for an average of 21 days and this prolonged course is part of the problem. Watching the capacity is what we are doing–so yesterday our local ICU beds were at 70% capacity and our ventilators were at 40% capacity. By no means is this a level at which we need to panic but it does indicate we all have to be rationale….
Let’s do our part, please and BRING YOUR MASK TO CLINIC!