A New York City emergency room doctor who works on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic says the novel coronavirus has run its course and it’s time to reopen America.
In a New York Post op-ed Monday, St. Barnabas Hospital ER Dr. Daniel G. Murphy described he’s seen coronavirus numbers fall in the past few weeks and explained why he thinks lockdown restrictions should be eased.
“COVID-19 has been the worst health care disaster of my 30-year career, because of its intensity, duration and potential for lasting impact,” noted Dr. Murphy. “The lasting impact is what worries me the most. And it’s why I now believe we should end the lockdown and rapidly get back to work.”
Murphy said through March and April critically ill patients overwhelmed the hospital’s facilities for weeks, with an “unprecedented number of deaths” witnessed by staff.
“It is precisely what I have witnessed that now tells me that it’s time to ease the lockdown. Here’s why,” Murphy described.
Murphy says one reason is hospitalizations have dropped and the number of cases have crested, crediting natural immunity rather than lockdown orders for the change.
At 1 p.m. April 7, the COVID-19 arrivals slowed down. It was a discrete, noticeable event. Stretchers became available by 5 p.m., and the number of arriving COVID-19 patients dropped below the number discharged, transferred or deceased.
This was striking, because the community I serve is poor. Some are homeless. Most work in “essential,” low-paying jobs, where distancing isn’t easy. Nevertheless, the wave passed over us, peaked and subsided. The way this transpired tells me the ebb and flow had more to do with the natural course of the outbreak than it did with the lockdown.
Secondly, Murphy says the coronavirus lockdown has led to patients forgoing seeking treatment for non-corona related illnesses at hospitals and medical facilities.
For the last week, we averaged fewer than 100 [ER room visits]. That means our patients in this diverse, low-income community are afraid to come to the ER for non-COVID care.
It’s also led to people dying at home from illnesses that could ordinarily have been easily treated by medical professionals.
The growing numbers dying at home during this crisis must include fatal myocardial infarctions, asthma exacerbations, bacterial infections and strokes.
Moreover, Dr. Murphy says coronavirus fears have been overblown.
“While COVID-19 is serious, fear of it is being over-amplified,” he wrote. “The public needs to understand that the vast majority of infected people do quite well.”
Lastly, the Bronx ER doctor imparts he believes many people have had or spread asymptomatic variants of COVID-19, meaning the public is developing an immunity to the virus.
As of today, over 43 percent of those tested are positive in The Bronx. We are developing a significant degree of natural herd immunity. Distancing works, but I am skeptical that it is playing as predominant a role as many think.
Dr. Murphy concludes while the cases of infected individuals will increase with more testing, America should not wait on those numbers to reopen the economy.
“Testing is important work, but it should happen in parallel to the immediate resuscitation of the economy and getting people back to work,” the ER doctor says.
“Standing up to this virus can’t be the job of essential workers only. We’ve been strong, but we’re tired, and we need the rest of you to help us. By getting back to work.”
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