It is now 2 months since the first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed in Maine. The two months has felt like an eternity and this new normal will continue to reshape all of our lives. One of the many memes floating around notes that 2020 is a unique leap year with 29 days in February, 300 days in March, and 5 years in April. It feels so true.
Honoring our first responders
Emergency care is a calling perhaps first recognized in the parable of the Good Samaritan. As we begin to settle in to our new normal, May is a special month, and even more so this year. We just concluded National Nurses Week (May 6-12) and in the week ahead we honor our first responders and emergency care clinicians with National EMS Week (May 17-23).
In addition, this Saturday, May 16th is our national EMS Memorial celebration which will be held virtually this year with a moment of silence at 6:05 pm honoring all of the emergency care providers who have died in the line of duty caring for their communities and strangers.
Please take a moment to thank all the emergency first responders and clinicians who are there for you every day.
With the above noted, here is where we are at LifeFlight and our emergency care system:
Transporting highly infectious disease patients is now standard, the new normal, every day.
The work is complex, difficult, time consuming and exhausting for our teams who are here for you and Maine 24/7.
While we first identified this as a respiratory disease it is actually much more. The Washington Post recently put out a summary of symptoms: “Doctors discover new ways the coronavirus attacks the body
The “R rate,” the rate at which the virus replicates and infects is estimated to be 0.94 in Maine. Essentially, we are even keel, with each person positive for COVID spreading the infection to slightly less than one other person. We are headed in the right direction and all of the stay at home and social distancing is working.
The summer is coming. With the flattening of the curve Maine is gradually being reopened and we will soon be welcoming all of our snowbirds and seasonal residents home to Maine.
With increased mobility and personal interaction we will see a rise in new infections.
Maintaining an R rate of less than one is critical. Even a small increase to a rate of 1.1 will completely overwhelm the healthcare system and we will not have enough ICU beds. We need to get down to an R rate of less than 0.5.
Our work continues and how you can help
As Maine reopens, continue to practice social distancing. Controlling the number and proximity of connections is crucial to keeping the curve flat. If you are returning to Maine from afar please follow guidance from your community and the Maine CDC to keep our communities safe and healthy.
One of the most important ways you can protect yourself, your family, the people you know and the community you live in is by using the bubble concept.
A recent full research paper, Social network-based distancing strategies to flatten the COVID 19 curve in a post-lockdown world. Block, P, Hoffman M, Raabe IJ, et. al. is available on our website.
While we are making progress, we are in this for the long haul. Our modeling suggests our new normal will be with us for at least the next 18-24 months. The challenges ahead remain immense. You can find the modeling we rely on in our special COVID section on our website. Please share the resources widely across your networks. The more we know, the more we can act together.
Finally once again, find a way to thank your first responders, our EMS and fire/rescue teams and everyone who works in our emergency care system who are here for you day in and day out. We are all in this together.
On behalf of the LifeFlight team,
Thomas Judge, Paramedic
Norm Dinerman, MD, FACEP