This topic has been on my mind for a few days. Over the weekend, I began modeling the impact of COVID-19 on US hospitals by state. I also broke it down for the metropolitan area where I reside. I knew what to expect, but even with having studied this for so many years, I am still feeling in shock from the numbers. I’ve felt paralyzed much of the afternoon because I can’t get the reality out of my head.
I don’t know if I’m going to share that data, but what I will say is that you should do EVERYTHING you can to stay healthy and avoid needing ANY care in the hospital. They are all going to be on track to run out of beds at some point. You may not be able to get admitted if you need one. NPIs will offset that, but in my estimation we are doing too little too late. The longer we wait to institute a massive lockdown, the more likely that my model will come to full fruition, and I’ve only modeled it on middle of the road data.
That leads me to my point. We are going to experience major behavioral health problems as well. Some of the expected symptoms and reactions are
- Emotional symptoms such as irritability or excessive sadness.
- Cognitive dysfunction such as difficulty making decisions or following directions.
- Physical symptoms such as headache, stomach pain, or difficulty breathing.
- Behavioral reactions such as consuming more alcohol or interpersonal conflict.
- Failure to adhere to needed physical or psychiatric medication needs.
One thing you can do to help those in your circles is to take a Psychological First Aid course. According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, “PFA is designed to reduce the initial distress caused by traumatic events and to foster short- and long-term adaptive functioning and coping. PFA does not assume that all survivors will develop severe mental health problems or long-term difficulties in recovery. Instead, it is based on an understanding that disaster survivors and others affected by such events will experience a broad range of early reactions (e.g., physical, psychological, behavioral, spiritual). Some of these reactions will cause enough distress to interfere with adaptive coping, and recovery may be helped by support from compassionate and caring disaster responders.”
An online course is available if you would like to learn these skills.
I will close with a final thought. There is a mantra in emergency communications that is Be First, Be Right, Be Credible. I want to start changing the thinking of the public to Be Home, Be Informed, Be Healthy. Will you do that?