When and why have health care workers become the enemy? What have they done that is so egregious?
They have done the same thing they have always done. They have delivered bad news, while at the same time, shouldered the burden of the responsibility for trying to alleviate it. A most unenviable task. A task that most folks would be unable to handle. Yet, even our health care workers have their breaking point. They have been in this fight since the very beginning. They have been caring for and sometimes watching people die. It takes a toll on them.
A group of physicians and nurses attended the Sept. 14 Assembly meeting to again sound the alarm. The message was real. Our hospitals are in trouble. Our family, friends and neighbors are getting sick and some are dying. This message should not have been met with disrespect. Disagreement is one thing, but outright disrespect of those exhausted from fighting this pandemic is another.
It is not unreasonable for the public to help those health care workers trying to help us. All of us should be doing whatever we can to join in the fight to stop this disease, as we have done in the past. I can assure you COVID-19 does not take sides – politically or otherwise. The virus sickens and kills without political prejudice.
It is reasonable to ask Alaskans to do what they can to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other communicable illnesses. Factors that put some Alaskans most at risk are age (above 59), obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes according to the CDC. These common comorbidities are associated with severe COVID-19 symptoms such as pneumonia, blood clots, cytokine storm, hospitalization and death in extreme situations.
A testament to our robust health care system and dedicated health care professionals is Alaska’s low death rate among COVID-19 patients. Alaska has the 3rd lowest cumulative death rate in the United States, at 78 deaths per 100,000 people. Compare that to Mississippi, which has the highest death rate at 330 per 100,000.
Combating COVID-19 necessitates the need for a multi-prong solution that includes preventative care (vaccinations), best practices, treatment (monoclonal antibodies) and testing.
It’s time to stop the attack on our health care workers and do our part to fight this common enemy: the COVID-19 pandemic.
Michael B. Savitt, M.D., serves as Chief Medical Officer for the Anchorage Health Department.
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