I am struck by how quickly the COVID-19 variants infect entire households. Most members of a family I saw Wednesday had contracted the virus; the mother had become so unwell that she was admitted to hospital. Unlike earlier waves, in which people had some idea of exposure, many now have no clue where they’ve contracted the virus.
So much gets lost in the reporting of numbers. ICU beds. Recovered cases. Positive tests. But the havoc that these numbers wreak on lives warrants more coverage. An ICU bed holds a very sick person who needs many health professionals to deliver care and who will take weeks or months to recover. It’s not just a bed. Some “recovered” cases don’t feel recovered at all. Just because you are no longer infectious doesn’t mean you won’t have lasting brain fog, fatigue or loss of smell. Positive tests mean stress, days of lost work isolating, uncomfortable and often shameful phone calls to contacts and worrying about people you may have exposed.
And for every full ICU bed, there are several hundred more patients admitted to the hospital ward and even more isolating or recovering at home. We are already running out of Tocilizumab, a drug shown to help people with severe COVID.
I saw a woman today who could have been me. Working mom, husband got infected, kids infected. Got progressively sicker over weeks. Admitted. Waited until the absolute last second to get care because she didn’t want to leave her kids or worry anyone. I worry for my unvaccinated husband, sister and other friends and family.
Ontario announced Wednesday that people over 18 in high-risk areas will be eligible to get vaccinated. I’m not celebrating yet or commenting on how smart this decision is. When I log on to book an appointment for my high-risk patients, the platform says that none are available. The implementation of these grand plans needs to be clearly communicated. I worry that because no clear plan has been outlined, that means there isn’t one. And there are still tremendous access barriers for our most vulnerable who can’t log on to an English website on their smartphone or drive to a vaccine site in the middle of a business day as though they have no job, kids, family or responsibilities. I’m looking forward to hearing the plan that addresses these barriers.