Our ED has seen record volumes of patients in recent weeks, many with COVID. Most of these COVID positive patients recently tested positive, and not feeling well with minor shortness of breath fever or body aches, come to the ED where they are evaluated and sent home. Our in hospital COVID admissions are only 50% of the heights achieved during the first COVID wave of March/April 2020, and are 70% of the second lessor wave of November/December 2020, but exceed the small third and fourth waves of April 2021 and September 202.
Statewide, COVID ACT Now rates Connecticut at Severe Risk despite the fact that 74.6 % of our population is fully vaccinated with 88.6% having received at least one dose.
Many of our 911 calls are for these COVID positive patients not feeling well. I have not seen any of the severe respiratory distress patients or the patients who appear okay, but who have oxygen saturations in the 70s like I saw during the first COVID wave. This may be because omicron supposedly doesn’t infect the lungs as badly as earlier COVID did.
I know far more people who have tested positive for COVID than in the early days. Most people I know who did test positive had headaches and sniffles, nothing too serious. I’ve had a couple days myself where I didn’t feel great, but the sniffles and fatigue didn’t last long enough for me to get tested and at no point did I have a fever.
The scary thing about COVID has always been not knowing if I already had it and beat it or if it is still waiting out there to smack me down hard.
I am good about wearing my mask and keeping social distance. When I go to my daughter’s basketball games, I sit by myself when I can. Over Christmas, we went to Florida to visit grandparents, our first trip since COVID hit. I was more concerned with having our flight cancelled due to COVID than me getting it. I also had to medicate myself with antihistamines, nasal decongestants, and cough suppressants to keep myself from coughing during the flight. I have a chronic cough that can easily draw glares. Fortunately, I was cough free on the flight, and never handed a parachute and told to jump out over the Atlantic.
The most troubling element of the current wave –while in hospital COVID deaths are way down from the March/April 2020 peak, there has been an increasing number of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests I have observed this both working EMS and here in the hospital where I have watched the EMS crews wheel past my ED office door, doing compressions on yet another victim. I saw the same thing during the first wave. My conclusion: people experiencing warning signs are ignoring them out of concern with crowded EDs and the possibility of getting COVID and they are paying the price. It has been speculated that early COVID may cause blood clotting leading to cardiac blockages or pulmonary emboli.
Bottom Line: Wear your masks. Maintain social distance. Get vaccinated and boosted, and if you are having chest pain or shortness of breath, seek medical attention. Don’t ignore warning signs. Be safe.