As always, we are sending massive gratitude to everyone on the front lines taking care of not only COVID patients, but all patients. That includes, docs, pharmacists, RTs, environmental service, dietary, nurses, lab, techs and every other single person that makes sure the health care system runs.
- I've seen lots of predictive models of what will happen over the next few weeks - when the virus will peak, how bad it will be, etc. Those models have substantial variability - I don't think we absolutely know right now but I think we can simultaneously hold two truths, both of which I believe: Things probably are going to peak later and higher than the Washington model AND I absolutely believe the social distancing/isolation is working and will save lives. If you are staying at home, you are saving lives!
- There is no silver bullet for this disease. Certainly not chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine. There is not yet convincing evidence it works, and it shouldn't be touted for everyone (and there are people who need it for other diseases where it's proven). That being said, the number and rate of patients is allowing unprecedented study of those medicines and so many others so that we can, very soon, actually know what works and what doesn't.
- I remain astounded by the innovation and rapid improvement I see every day.
- There is much interest in the rapid tests that are being touted - 5 min turnaround, etc. I think of myself as a simple country lung doc, but to my understanding they are antibody tests, not for the virus. You can have the virus for several days before developing the antibodies and after you recover from the virus you will have the antibodies but not infectious. It won't be helpful for diagnostic testing but will help with population health, epidemiology, and identifying folks who have already been exposed and might be able to return to work. We also don't know if there is cross reactivity with "every day" coronavirus, which might skew things.
- I’m hearing a lot of questions around wearing cloth masks. The CDC recommended wearing cloth masks in public for all. To be clear, it's not to help protect the person wearing the mask. It's to help "cover your cough" when you can't appropriately socially distance. It's no replacement for social distancing and good hand hygiene.
That's a lot for now. Where I am and definitely in Kenya, there is still much to prepare for, but I'm so proud of everyone doing their part, including everyone helping keeping people safe by keeping their distance!
The Ubuntu team is working diligently to ensure that our patients continue to receive care and medications - we have global health experts who are reviewing the procedures for the upcoming medical clinic which will take place virtually thanks to our launch of a telehealth program last year. I am thankful at our team’s ability to pivot at this time when the community there needs us most. Thank you to everyone who helped make that possible!
Stay safe out there!
Dr. Tim Williamson, MD
Physician Vice President of Quality and Safety, University of Kansas Health System
Board of Directors, Ubuntu Life Foundation