How is the coronavirus in Travis County like the Titanic?
"Texas is on a collision course with a viral iceberg," says Travis County Medical Society president Dr. John Abikhaled in a public service announcement the organization of doctors posted on YouTube on Wednesday.
"Central Texas is now experiencing a dangerous surge of COVID-19 that just a month ago we had hoped we could avoid," he says.
Abikhaled cites data of going from about 50 to 80 new cases a day to now seeing an average of 559 new cases a day, and hospitalizations increasing from less than 100 to 434 by July 4. (There were 440 hospitalizations and 709 new cases on Thursday in Travis County.)
He says that in March, April and May, we were able to flatten the curve and every COVID-19 patient was able to get the best care.
Our situation is worse than it was weeks ago, he says, because of the level of viral transmission Central Texas is experiencing and the fact that with COVID-19, the current surge is happening because of viral transmission that happened two to four weeks ago.
"Even if we take action now, it will be two to four weeks before we see the effect," Abikhaled says. "This is like trying to stop a train or turn a cruise ship."
Remember the Titanic of 1912? When the ship entered the waters filled with icebergs, instead of slowing down, it continued at high speeds, he explains. By the time the iceberg was spotted, the ship could not be turned to avoid the iceberg.
Abikhaled says that if we continue at our current rates of cases doubling, in less than three weeks we will exceed our hospital capacity.
He says we will have shortages of trained health care workers, treatments like convalescent plasma taken from the blood of people who have already had the virus and the steroid Remdesivir, and space in our hospitals.
"Terrible decisions will have to be made about who receives care and who does not," he says.
He warns that our death count will start to look New York’s body count if we don’t do something.
"We don’t have to sink," he says. "We can slow down and change course. We must do it now."
He and other doctors demonstrate what we can do: wear masks, keep our distance from others, wash our hands, cover our coughs, avoid touching our faces and minimizing casual contact with other people.