Covid: Looking Back & Looking Forward

March 16. 2023.  Three years ago, the COVID-19 pandemic became apparent.  At this time, we first remember the family members and friends of the HPS community who died, we recognize those who grieve this loss, and support those who struggle with managing Long Covid symptoms.  

Based on current trends, the US Dept. of Health & Human Services and the Commonwealth of MA are planning to expire the federal Public Health Emergency for COVID-19 on May 11, 2023.  While we all look forward to this latest transition, it’s important to note that the US had an average 29,000 new cases and 393 daily COVID-related deaths as recently as March 10 (NY Times)..Though still high, these figures thankfully represent a big drop from a daily average of more than 800,000 omicron-related cases in January, 2022 and the average daily deaths of around 3,000 in January 2021.  The vaccines and treatments now in place have greatly improved outcomes for most people.

It's helpful to reflect on how far we've come in facing this particular global pandemic.  In 2020, hospitals were struggling to care for an exponentially growing number of patients admitted with severe symptoms of Covid illness:  ICU's were overwhelmed, outdoor triage tents had to be set up, test kits were very limited, and effective treatments had yet to be determined.  Immediate measures had to be implemented to allow our hospitals the ability to provide needed services. 

Even the most basic supplies in our grocery stores became unavailable.  

Despite all of these challenges, people throughout the world quickly found ways to help each other.  While scientists worked together to develop vaccines and treatments, we all did our part by working together to "flatten the curve" and to "mitigate the spread" of this previously unknown "novel" deadly virus.  From sewing homemade masks, to making hand sanitizer, to temporarily shutting down public places, we all found ways to face this unseen challenge. 

While we sometimes disagreed, we all found common ground in the firm belief that we would figure out ways to manage.  We’ve learned that infectious disease pandemics have happened in the past and will likely happen again.  Because of this, we’ve learned the value of preparation and planning.  Following the lead of Disaster Relief and Emergency Medical Services experts, we can all prepare and keep  Home Ready Kits handy; we can balance staying informed about developing situations like the Covid-19 Pandemic with taking breaks from the 24/7 news cycle; and model seeking healthy choices with our families.

AJMC: A Timeline of Covid Developments 2020-21