The following is an Op-Ed regarding the coronavirus pandemic from Vidant Health/ECU Brody School of Medicine.
Vidant Health and the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University are calling on all of eastern North Carolina to do their part to flatten the curve. We need to act quickly and definitively. When you watch what is happening in other communities and are scared about what you see, you should ask yourself a few questions: Will it hit my own community? Why can’t we stop this? What should we do? These are difficult questions, but the answers are clear.
This pandemic has turned into a wave that is rolling across our country, hitting our state and threatening eastern North Carolina. The data are clear: it has started to impact our region and the problem continues to grow.
We can’t stop this wave from hitting us. However, we can lessen its impact here and now in eastern North Carolina. The question is whether we will take the necessary actions to reduce the spread of the virus. When you see the disasters affecting communities around the world, you are seeing the towns, cities, regions or countries that did not take action to slow or stop the wave. What you don’t see are the ones that are not suffering as much. The ones whose health care system is able to respond to the demand. The ones whose economies are already recovering. These are the stories of the communities who took the actions to slow the wave. What we do now will determine our story.
The fact is we have a short window of opportunity, as the virus is moving much faster than we normally make decisions. We know the story and outcome if we do nothing more. We see it on the news and on social media every day. We know from history that bold and definitive actions can change the course for the better.
Hospitals throughout North Carolina have and continue to take measures to respond to the COVID-19 wave. This includes all nine Vidant hospitals serving eastern North Carolina. It is time for communities to make similar definitive and decisive decisions to protect our region.
Each of us has a responsibility to act immediately and to take action to help our communities respond to this crisis. Now, more than ever, we need every person, organization and government agency working together to protect our loved ones.
Practice social distancing. Stay home as much as possible. Call before visiting a health care facility if you have a fever. Respectfully encourage others through social media to do their part. These actions, combined with every day hygiene habits like proper hand washing, coughing and sneezing into the crook of your arm and cleaning surfaces, will help us flatten the curve and keep our loved ones healthy.
We are calling on local officials throughout eastern North Carolina and the state to take more decisive action in response to this crisis to include making the bold and right decision to ask North Carolinians to shelter in place. This means staying close to home as much as possible and only going out if absolutely necessary, such as buying groceries or picking up medications. This is the right thing to do to save lives and is the right thing for our long-term economic interests. Community members must encourage the political bodies to be decisive, take action now and then support them.
We would also like to thank all health care workers and every person on the front lines for their tireless efforts to care for those in need. This is a difficult time for doctors, nurses and care teams. We stand ready to care for those in our region, but we need local communities to do their part.
We are confident we can flatten the curve. However, we must all stand up together, as one community, to get through this crisis.
Michael Waldrum, M.D.
Chief Executive Officer, Vidant Health
Mark Stacy, M.D.
Dean, Brody School of Medicine
Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences, East Carolina University
I truly hope the leaders of Hyde County will listen to this expert advice and follow the lead of Dare County leaders in closing the island to non-essentials. What good are repaired homes, if the hopeful inhabitants end up severely ill, or worse, dead? This island community cherishes the elders among them, and our medical infrastructure is small to begin with, and strained since Hurricane Dorian. If you care for your neighbors, please consider calling your local officials and asking for them to take the necessary and stringent precautions being advised by experts, before it’s too late.
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