Across the country, social distancing is becoming a way to signal which side of the culture war you’re on. The consequences could be disastrous
A supervisor urged surgeons at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in Manhattan to volunteer for the front lines because half the intensive-care staff had already been sickened by coronavirus.
“ICU is EXPLODING,” she wrote in an email.
A doctor at Weill Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan described the unnerving experience of walking daily past an intubated, critically ill colleague in her 30s, wondering who would be next.
Another doctor at a major New York City hospital described it as “a petri dish,” where more than 200 workers had fallen sick.
Two nurses in city hospitals have died
“It’s all a war zone,” one of the paramedics said
Days later, another paramedic, Phil Suarez, was dispatched to two homes in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood, where entire families, living in cramped apartments, appeared to be stricken with the virus.
“I’m terrified,” said Mr. Suarez, who has been a paramedic in New York City for 26 years and had assisted in rescue efforts during the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and later served in the Iraq war. “I honestly don’t know if I’m going to survive. I’m terrified of what I’ve already possibly brought home.”
Across the country in Washington state—which was then the seat of the country’s biggest COVID-19 hotspot—testing had been underway at the University of Washington, with whom Crawford was in regular contact. Doctors there were noticing an 8 percent positivity rate—that is, 8 percent of all the coronavirus tests they ran came back positive. In the world of laboratory science, that was considered extremely high. But when Northwell labs ran their first batch of tests on 20 samples, five came back positive, a 25 percent positivity rate. This was an astonishingly high—and frightening—number.
"We are chasing the virus," Crawford says, "and the virus is getting ahead of us."
“The data will begin to show when we have turned a corner,” Crawford told me. “And we haven’t yet.”