Thanksgiving beckons as we write this. Along with Christmas, the end of year holidays for all religions, and New Year’s we are all thinking about family, friends and loved ones we care about. It’s a time to be thankful and to celebrate. Despite the pandemic we cannot afford to miss these important moments but as we celebrate our risks increase.
We must think about our families and loved ones very differently this year. We must undertake a risk analysis for everyone we are planning to spend time with. This might not be the best year for grandparents and family who have ongoing health risks.
We are now experiencing widespread silent community transmission of COVID-19 throughout Maine. From one of the lowest rates of transmission per capita in the country in early October we are now at one of the highest rates in the nation. As hospitalization and deaths are lagging indicators of illness, we are experiencing the impact of individual actions from early to mid-October. At this point there is no way to slow down the effects of the pandemic over the next few weeks.
Our colleagues across the country, including physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, paramedics and EMS personnel, are overwhelmed. Many are now sick or in quarantine, unable to care for patients. Their stories and experiences are heartbreaking. While our hospitals and morgues are not yet overwhelmed, as we see in other parts of the country, our hospitals are filling rapidly across Maine. LifeFlight is caring for critically ill COVID patients every shift, night and day, and our hospitals and healthcare system are at risk of becoming overwhelmed. We cannot be there to take care of you unless we all work together.
The good news is WE CAN change what happens at Christmas going forward into the new year by our individual and collective actions right now, starting with Thanksgiving.
This is what we need from you.
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE be thoughtful, careful and cautious with your family celebrations. It might not be the year to have everyone around the table.
WEAR MASKS whenever in public or inside with people who are not in your bubble.
WATCH YOUR DISTANCE remembering this is about physical distance not social distance.
WASH YOUR HANDS at every opportunity and change of setting. This helps prevent every viral and bacterial infection.
WATCH YOUR SYMPTOMS and do not interact with others if you are ill. Remember that the biggest challenge of COVID is no symptom and early symptom transmission.
WE CAN SEE LIGHT at the end of the tunnel with the news of working vaccines but it is a long way to next summer. Our individual and collective actions now will make the difference in who will be at our table and who we will be missing next Thanksgiving.
Join us by simply wearing a mask whenever you are in public. Taking extra care with your family ‘bubble’ will help save lives. Please help us be there for you when needed.
On behalf of the LifeFlight team,
Thomas Judge, Paramedic
Norm Dinerman, MD, FACEP