To be honest, I’m kinda liking this stay at home stuff. The slower pace around town is really nice. There’s a nostalgic feel to the city frankly. I can get around town in less than an hour, people are actually waving to each other with a knowing smile and a bit of “we’re all in this together” empathy.
For those who are new to the city, and by that I mean anyone who has lived here under 15 years, this is a taste of the gentility and small town feel that us old-timers miss. The hustle and bustle of the traffic is calmed and replaced with a perpetual Sunday morning pace. Maybe I’m just old and longing for a more genteel time, but this enforced calmness is rather pleasant.
Which is not to say it doesn’t have its downsides. The phones at work are ringing with new domestic violence cases and insane fact patterns. I expect this week the divorce calls will start as people are getting fed up living together. The stresses of being so close for so long, combined with the extreme financial pressures many people are feeling reminds me of the 2008 recession.
The feeling that all is just frozen in place, is very reminiscent of that dark period. Almost everyone I know is anxious about cashflow, and whether their business will be left standing in a month. This weekend President Trump extended the federal guidelines to stay home to April 30, which only exacerbates the social anxiety and makes it that much harder to keep positive.
So far I know five people who either have the coronavirus or are presumed positives. All of them are doing well and have either recovered or are well on their way to full recovery. I’m sure that there are many more in my circle who are sick, but haven’t shared about it yet.
If you’ve been watching the news, or anything besides that Tiger King show, you know that the epicenter in America is New York and the scenes coming out of the hospitals there are nightmarish. Pictures of reefers, (refrigerated trailers) with bodies in body bags are making their way into the newscycle. Stories of doctors and nurses having to reuse their masks for days are appalling.
Due to the precautions put in place by hospitals to reduce transmission rates, individuals who are dying are not seen last by their family, but by medical staff. The trauma that they are experiencing will never be fully erased. By the time this article is printed, we will have lost more people than the 2,996 we lost on 9/11. And while that number is not a huge percentage in comparison to the size of the country, what is remarkable about it is the emotional toll it is taking on those who serve.
What is scary is that Dr. Anthony Fauci the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases says that we could potentially lose 100,000 to 200,000 in best case scenarios and upwards from there depending on the disease track and our response to it. Now in a country of 330 million that’s not a devastating number. It’s a tiny fraction of our population, but what’s traumatic about it, is how quickly it will happen, and how our medical infrastructure is not capable of handling that many patients.
We have to work backwards to see the true impact of those projections. Using the lower projection of 100,000 people dead, at a 4% mortality means that 25 times that number were sick, so that’s 2,500,000 who were sick and maybe 15% of them are in the Serious/Critical needing hospitalization so that’s 375,000. Possibly double that. All in a few weeks.
According to the American Hospital Association website we have just 924,107 beds in the U.S. And you have to remember that most of them are actually in use prior to the current pandemic. This is why the medical community is so scared and overwhelmed. It’s like a pig in a python. It’s a big thing to work through, and we have a medical infrastructure that is based on ‘just in time’ inventory controls so there was almost no capacity to handle this type of mass sickness.
New York is dealing with a situation that is approximately 10 times bigger than what we have in California, even though they are about half of our population. We are much more dispersed, which hopefully means that we will not have nearly the numbers of infected, and thus not nearly as big a strain on our medical system.
The good news is we know this will end. It has ended in other places and it will end here. We have lots of good people working to develop treatments and solutions. The medical community is finding ways to cope, to adapt and there are solutions that will result from the necessity of it all. Hospitals are figuring out how to adapt ventilators to more than one patient. Others are retrofitting CPAP machines (which are plentiful) to become ventilators. Big business is slowly coming online, Ford announced they will be producing 50,000 ventilators starting in 3 weeks. If we can hold the line in most parts of the country, we should be able to produce the equipment needed to combat this.
The FDA is operating with lightning speed to approve new treatment protocols, biotech companies are coming out with retrovirals, and American ingenuity is kicking in to find solutions.
We will have life after this, we have to remember that, and in the interim, enjoy the days that you can, because soon enough, we’ll be back to traffic, and crowds and the fast pace of our normal life.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310/664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra