Craig DeLisi, MD
If you’ve watched local news or kept up with the numbers, you’ve seen a significant increase in the number of cases of COVID-19 in Titus County (and surrounding counties) over the last two weeks. As expected, we are seeing a spike in evidence a few weeks later than the peaks of the major metropolitan areas in Texas. We know that nationally and statewide, approximately 15% of those who contract the virus will end up in the hospital, 5% will need intensive care, and 1-2% will die. As our community cases increase from single digits to double digits, now to hundreds, we will increasingly see these scenarios here in our town. Indeed, we have already, and it is a harsh reality. There are some things I’d like to address because of this sudden and substantial increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.
First, for those of you who have been diagnosed and actively have COVID-19, please notify your physician or health care provider if you have a significant worsening of symptoms. Particularly if you have a hard time breathing, you need to seek care immediately. People who have this infection sometimes go from feeling slightly bad to dangerously ill very quickly. Finding timely care could make a difference if you need to be in the hospital.
Second, for those of you who are well, if you become symptomatic, please get tested. Since there is still not an effective outpatient medication to help fight this disease, one of the most effective tools we have to control the spread is to identify those who have it. We can test freely and conveniently at our clinic, and we have tested hundreds of patients in the past two weeks. If you have the following symptoms – fever, cough, shortness of breath, body aches, loss of smell and taste – and even more so if you have symptoms AND exposed to a known case, please get tested. Testing involves a swab up the nose, much like a flu test. I’ve been tested and can attest that it is uncomfortable, but not painful. Additionally, we do offer a blood test that is entirely accurate in determining whether or not you had the previous infection with SARS-CoV-2.
Third, since the virus is thoroughly in our community now, I ask you to please exercise caution in public. I realize many of you are growing tired of these mitigating measures. But as we see more and more cases, it becomes increasingly important to be diligent, both for your safety and that of others. In particular, at this time, I still ask that you please wear a mask in public. Remember, this is a way to help prevent OTHERS from being exposed if you are infected and don’t know it yet.
Finally, as a Christian physician, I feel compelled to address two perspectives regarding the pandemic I’ve observed that I think they are unhealthy and unhelpful. The first is fear and panic. I’ve seen a lot of this. I don’t want to undercut this infection’s seriousness, but there is never a place for paralyzing fear for God’s people. Christians are even commanded not to worry. The Father knows every hair on our head and cares for even the birds and the flowers (Matthew 6:25-34, 10:29-31). Should you have a sober concern? Yes. But not fear and worry. The antidote to fear is trust. The reason I am personally not afraid of becoming infected is not that I know I will be fine, but instead because I trust in the sovereign goodness of God no matter what may come.
The second perspective is one I see more and more. It appears to almost be the opposite of fear and worry but presents itself as a blatant disregard for the reality of this pandemic. In its extreme, some of those that feel this way do not practice or promote basic caution in their interaction with others and look on disdain at those who do. At its heart, I’m sure, is the desire to “get back to normal,” which we all share. But rejecting calls for simple preventative public health measures will not help us resume societal normalcy sooner, and it may delay it. Among the faulty conclusions that many of this persuasion believe is that this has all been much ado about nothing. Please make no mistake – this is not the flu. It is much worse, and that will be evident everywhere, including our community, by the time the pandemic is over. This perspective seems particularly dangerous because it can endanger others. The more people live like all is well when it is not, I believe the result will be unnecessary extra sickness.
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12
It was the first verse that came to my mind at the beginning of this pandemic, and I’ve considered it often since then. Numbering our days means considering our mortality. We are mortal, and the more we ponder this, the better we live. Part of living better, in these times, is having wisdom and humility to consider others before ourselves.
In the days ahead, our world should and will continue to move back towards normal. Please proceed WITH others-considering CAUTION and WITHOUT FEAR.
We’re all in this together.
Craig DeLisi, MD
Family Care Center