As physicians we’re used to encountering illness on a daily basis. And 18 months in, COVID-19 illnesses are unfortunately all too familiar.
But this wave is different. Even in our profession, never did we expect it to go on this long. Never did we expect to see so many kids get so sick; so many ICUs get overrun, again; so few staff to go around that we just don’t get a break or even - in the case of some of our colleagues - leave the profession; so much death. Some communities have been driven to the brink of complete shutdown.
And that’s just it. Every community is different. Every wave of this pandemic has been different. And every patient is different. We all thought in the beginning this disease was limited to the elderly and those with preexisting conditions.
The best way to ride or even calm these waves in the long run – and heaven forbid the next disease outbreak, or wave of flu or RSV, which are already here – is by giving local physicians and health departments and governing officials the ability to confront what’s before them right then and there.
That’s why the Texas Medical Association and Texas Pediatric Society have impressed upon Gov. Greg Abbott the need for all institutions – including schools, school districts, hospitals, health care facilities, medical schools, and medical centers, regardless of funding source – to be able to make local, independent decisions regarding vaccinations and the use of masks, preferably in consultation with physicians in those communities, and always using evidence-based data to inform their decisions.
As physicians we know there is no panacea for disease, which is why our organizations are not asking for statewide mandates. We are asking to be able to use every possible tool at our disposal when we need it most. And we really need them now.
It’s what we as individual physicians would do for every one of our patients. And we never want to treat each patient the same. We are all different. Let’s treat this pandemic with the respect it deserves.
E. Linda Villarreal, MD
Texas Medical Association
Seth Kaplan, MD, FAAP
Texas Pediatric Society