COVID-19 cases are surging in Utah at an unsustainable rate. By now, you probably know (or know of) several people in your personal circle who have fallen ill. Many of them have probably recovered or are recovering without serious complications. But, by now, you probably also know an individual who has died or is struggling with long-term, sometimes devastating effects.
This number of people you know who will be infected with this virus will increase. Some will be very sick. Some will die. If you should end up needing to be hospitalized with this very serious illness, rather than start by telling you what we as doctors will do, let me start by telling you what we won’t do.
We won’t ask your political affiliation, nor who you voted for.
We won’t ask if you believe in masking, nor even in the virus.
We won’t ask you why you cannot tolerate wearing a face covering for minutes at a time, while we can mask for every 12-hour shift. The reasoning does not matter.
We won’t ask if you attended a political rally or social protests. We will just take our best care of you.
We won’t ask where you got your education on virology or statistics, nor will we tout where we got ours (unless you ask).
Your doctors and nurses don’t ask you to mask and social distance because we enjoy it ourselves or want our communities to feel controlled. We ask these things because it is literally the only thing that we collectively can do to protect each other.
Every hospitalized patient puts the entire care team at risk. Doctors, nurses, techs and janitorial staff have loved ones at home whom we worry about. We are trying to juggle lives as parents, spouses and children of older parents. We all miss dining out and travel, football games and parties, too.
Doctors do not look at the state and federal restrictions as controlling us; rather, it’s the rampant spread of the virus that is controlling us. Masks are being required and businesses have altered their practices. Schools are closed or closing because people cannot act with respect of each other. It is not the other way around.
If you put your child in a gun safety class before their first hunting season, you can respect wearing a mask. If you support Utah’s lowest-in-the-nation DWI level, you can limit social gatherings. If you support your state trooper pulling over speeding cars on the highway, you can support your medical community by doing the very basic things that we are pleading for you to do.
We are desperate to avoid a situation where care is rationed away from our patients because there are simply too many to care for in the hospital. Your doctors are devastated when patients pass away despite our giving all the care we can possible deliver.
It is not too late for you to adjust your behavior in small ways to control the spread of this virus. But we all must do everything we can immediately. We won’t stop caring for you, we just ask that you show some care for those around you.
Isaac J. Noyes, M.D., is the president of the Utah Academy of Family Physicians.