Man, there is a lot to unravel here. Here are some thoughts:
- The concept of flattening the curve was to prevent hospitals from having their resources overrun. At first, doctors thought the lowest common denominator was ventilators. We were originally trying to flatten the curve to make sure we had enough ventilators. Ventilators didn't turn out to be helpful for most COVID patients. We are still trying to flatten the curve to keep our ICUs from overfilling and exposing our lack of hospital beds and staff.
- Hospitals and doctors were never in a position to prepare for a pandemic. That is not what they do. They treat sick people and give us advice on how to stay healthy.
- Hospitals were hurt by the pandemic. Grocery stores make big profit margins on items like deli meats and cheeses and prepared foods, but barely break even on commodities like milk. Hospitals make the majority of their money on elective outpatient surgery and imaging. Elective surgeries went to zero during the spring and hospitals hemorrhaged money and took on big losses. They could barely afford to keep the staff they had, let alone staff up or buy additional supplies.
- One million people got on airplanes yesterday in the US to travel for the holiday. This is 48% of the people that did so the Sunday before Thanksgiving 2019. Definitely a reduction, but way too many people moving around since over half of the virus transmission is now asymptomatic. This is certainly going to get bad.
- Natural herd immunity was never a goal. For this to take place, many millions of Americans would need to die.
- It is pretty simple. To stop the spread and deaths before the vaccine arrives: Wear a mask at all times out side the home. Do not mix with people outside your immediate family/bubble. Don't eat in public (or do activities that require removing the mask). Stay home except for essential travel.
What is most surprising to me during this crisis is that our society has shown a remarkable lack of creativity and flexibility. There are many ways to stay active, conduct business, communicate and live your life in this environment. No, it isn't exactly the way we used to do things, but if we get creative, follow the rules and band together, we can change our practices in the short term and beat this. If everyone whines that they can't get what they always get, can't go to the parties and concerts and restaurants and vacations they always did, and don't follow the rules, we won't beat this. As a consequence, a huge number of people will die, and many more will get COVID, recover and may suffer long term consequences that we don't yet understand. Keep in mind, nobody yet knows what long term health impacts a recovered 12 year old, 25 year old or 50 year old may deal with the rest of their lives. Wear a mask. Stay home. The vaccine will be here soon. Let's all keep each other safe in the meantime.