🚨I wrote about what this surge is doing to the healthcare system.
It's bad.
Though less severe, Omicron is spreading quickly enough to inundate hospitals, which can't handle the strain cos so many healthcare workers had quit or are now sick. 1/
The most important thing about this surge: It comes *after all the others*, & finds a workforce that’s exhausted, demoralized, & smaller because of waves of resignations.
Today’s system can’t handle what it used to handle. It must now handle a LOT. 2/ theatlantic.com/health/archive…
COVID hospitalizations rose 40k to 65k in the 7 weeks before Christmas, and then to 110k in the 2 wks since.
The CDC is forecasting 25-54k extra patients *per day* by end-Jan.
That's... not good. 3/ theatlantic.com/health/archive…
Are these people with other problems who incidentally have Covid? Every doc/nurse I asked said no.
Vast majority have respiratory problems, or chronic illness that Covid tipped over the edge.
They're hospitalized by Covid, not simply with Covid. 4/
Omicron's less severe, so the average COVID patient in 2022 will be less sick than the one in 2021.
BUT tho the *percentage* of very sick people is lower, the *absolute number* is still high because the variant is spreading so quickly. 5/ theatlantic.com/health/archive…
So here's the bind: Omicron is less severe for individuals, but it’s disastrous for the health-care system that those individuals need. Once again, personal risk and collective risk are at odds, and the former is masking the latter. 6/ theatlantic.com/health/archive…
(Caveat: Many of the healthcare workers I talked to are seeing signs of Omicron's reduced severity in practice, which is great. But some aren't, which may be because a LOT of ppl are still unvaccinated & there's still a lot of Delta. Remember Delta? theatlantic.com/health/archive… 7/)
Some people argue that other countries got off lightly with Omicron. But compared to the US, those either have younger populations (SAfrica) or more vax/boosters (UK/Denmark). The same decoupling of cases/hosp’ns isn't guaranteed here. 8/ theatlantic.com/health/archive…
Hospital short-staffing was bad before Covid, and got worse as droves of people quit. It’s unbearable now cos unprecedented numbers of HCWs are out of play with breakthrough infections. Even places with fewer patients than last year feel fuller. 9/ theatlantic.com/health/archive…
To be clear, this isn’t just about Covid. Medical care is straining. People are sitting in emergency rooms for 6-12 hours waiting to be seen. Docs are discharging people who should be admitted cos there’s nowhere to put them. 10/ theatlantic.com/health/archive…
The whole system is straining.
▶️Pharmacists are sick -> people can’t get tests/meds -> they go to hospital sicker.
▶️Lab technicians are sick -> test results are delayed
▶️Longterm care facilities are hammered -> many patients can’t be discharged 11/
Morale is failing. Healthcare workers see the reality of the pandemic daily. Then everywhere else, they see people living the fantasy that it’s over. The rest of the country is hell-bent on returning to normal, but their choices mean that HCWs cannot. 12/ theatlantic.com/health/archive…
This is what it looks like when a healthcare system collapses. It’s not a dramatic, movie-style thing. First, it’s just *a lot of waiting*. Things take longer, then they don’t happen. Care gets gradually worse. More staff leave. This is happening now. 13/ theatlantic.com/health/archive…
Many proposed solutions—troops! antivirals!—are insufficient, and can’t be deployed at scale or in time. Unbelievably, it’s 2022, and the fate of the healthcare system once again depends on flattening the curve, in days not weeks. 14/
And even then, when hospitalizations fall, it won't be over because, frankly, many healthcare workers have just had enough. More and more are talking about leaving—maybe not now, but perhaps once the adrenaline and need start to fade. 15/ theatlantic.com/health/archive…
And again, this is no longer just about Covid. It's now about our ability to get the standard of medical care that we've come to expect for *anything*. If you're impervious to harm or disease, or can regenerate, you can sit this one out. Otherwise... Fin/ theatlantic.com/health/archive…

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More from @edyong209

23 Dec 21
I'm going to log off and try and take a break.

This piece lays out the stakes for the next few weeks.

And here's one last thread reflecting on my experience of covering the pandemic's second year. 1/

I think the pandemic traps us (people broadly, and journalists specifically) in the present moment, always reacting (too late) to the current surge or lull. But to really understand how we got here and how to get out, we need to grapple with the past, both recent and distant. 2/
So I wrote about the ways in which trauma lingers, even when some semblance of safety is reached... 3/
Read 17 tweets
17 Dec 21
I turn 40 today. I was planning to have a party but I canceled it last week because of Omicron.

I wrote about why I made that call, and how I thought about the risks—to myself, to my friends, and to our society. 1/

This piece isn't a lecture or advice column. It's just me walking through my thoughts as I try to apply the lessons learned from my reporting to my own life.

I know many people are struggling with decisions about gatherings so maybe this might help. 2/

(Just had to jinx it, didn't you, kiddo?)

Read 6 tweets
16 Dec 21
🚨Well, I wrote about Omicron--what we know & what it means.

I feel the core problem is unchanged: The variant poses a much greater threat at the societal level than the individual one, making it the kind of problem the US has consistently flubbed. 1/
First, a clarification. It's v. easy to ascribe everything to the new variant but even if Omicron hadn’t emerged, we’d still looking at a bad winter.

Hospitalizations are rising. 1000+ deaths /day. That’s Delta. What’ll Omicron do *on top of that*? 2/
This piece analyzes that question at 2 scales—individual and societal. Individually, things are... not great but also not catastrophic. Societally, I am sad to say it’s bleaker.

I won’t tweet the whole piece, but here are some key points. 3/
Read 11 tweets
24 Nov 21
🚨I wrote about healthcare workers with long-COVID, & how their experience changed their view of medicine.

HCWs & long-haulers are often framed in opposition, but here's the story of people who sit across both worlds. 1/

Most medically trained long-haulers I interviewed were shocked at how quick their own peers were to disregard their medical expertise and tell them their symptoms were in their heads. Their status as patients completely subsumed their qualifications. 2/
Healthcare workers w/ long COVID have told me that their own doctor made the finger-circling-a-temple gesture at them, or told them “hormones do funny things to women.” For some, the experience has shattered their trust in their own profession. 3/
Read 10 tweets
23 Nov 21
We published this a week ago. Every day since, my inbox has filled with emails from HCWs who say it reflects their reality & mental state. Their messages are heartbreaking--stories of pain, anger, and moral distress, sometimes at essay-length, from people who've had enough.
There are people who want to leave but are trapped by debt, people who saw medicine as a calling but can't cope any more, people who feel so hollow that they're strangers to their loved ones, people who are staring at what looks a lot like another winter surge with utter horror.
In a way, it's gratifying to hear messages from people who say they finally feel seen, or who are thankful for something they can use to explain what's happening to their families. It's good to feel that these pieces make a difference to at least some people.
Read 7 tweets
16 Nov 21
🚨During surges, much is written about healthcare workers burning out. But they often get by on adrenaline only to find, once ICUs are empty, that so are they.

In the US, 1/5 have left. More plan too. I wrote about the hemorrhage happening right now. 1/ theatlantic.com/health/archive…
I spoke to so many healthcare workers who’ve been broken by the pandemic—by the traumas they saw, the institutions that failed them, the moral distress of being unable to do their job. Many thought they were in medicine for life. They’ve quit, too. 2/

COVID is hard to treat. It quickly inundates hospitals.
Healthcare workers aren't quitting because they can’t handle their jobs. They’re quitting because they can’t handle *being unable to do their jobs*. 3/

Read 10 tweets

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