RARE Daily

Life in a Pandemic

March 17, 2020

First, take a deep breath.

If you are wearing a N95 respirator or surgical masks (and you are a safe distance from others) take it off for a moment and breathe. Now follow the instructions on that wholly remarkable book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Don’t panic.

These are strange times. There is a seeming paradox that things are not as bad as they seem, but probably are worse than you imagine.

The once distinct circles on maps of the world tracing the COVID-19 outbreak are turning into blob-on-blob abstractions that make them look like a test for color blindness. A 2,000-point swing in the Dow Jones Industrial Average elicit little more than a shrug these days. And for some reason people seem to think toilet paper is talisman that can ward off the threat of a respiratory virus.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, we are under orders to shelter in place. This has meant little change in lifestyle for me. I’ve long worked from home and my wife suggested we adopt a policy of social distancing sometime after our third child was born.

Nevertheless, we are living through a time of uncertainty and change. We don’t know what is going to happen, but we may see long-lasting changes from what is ahead that may extend long beyond the immediate threat of infection. This includes economic disruption, alterations to our healthcare system, and changes the way we move around the globe.

There may be positive changes that come from this too. Companies may grow smarter about telecommunicating policies. Barriers to telehealth may fall as steps are taken to connect doctors to patients without bringing them into a clinic. And with the potential for disruption to clinical trials as a result of demands on hospitals and the need to protect people from the risk of infection, drug developers may embrace digital health technologies for drug trials with greater intensity.

We’d like to hear from you. What are the challenges you are facing as a result of the pandemic? What are your biggest concerns? What are you doing to cope? Are you facing any particular medical challenges or struggling emotionally as a result of the pandemic? Tell us what you are experiencing.

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