Doctor Gives Harrowing Account Of Life On The Frontline For Clinicians Treating COVID-19 In New York

Dr Craig Spencer/Twitter. Daria Serdtseva/Shutterstock

Rachael Funnell 25 Mar 2020, 15:21

Lockdowns globally are thought to have affected 20 percent of the world’s population, yet despite this, it seems some people are still having a hard time grasping the gravity of the situation. In America, parties in Florida and Kentucky, despite please for physical distancing, saw attendees who presumably thought “it won’t happen to me” come down with the COVID-19 disease. In Italy, an irate mayor went viral after speaking out about people treating the lockdown like “Will Smith in I Am Legend,” and refusing to comply with the government’s orders to stay inside.

If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to bring the seriousness of the situation to the forefront of our minds, it’s reports from the front line. Staying indoors when the weather is nice may lull you into a false sense of security, as quieter roads and empty streets project a picture of calm. Pop down to a hospital in one of the worst affected areas, however, and it’s a very different story.

In a recent thread on Twitter, Dr Craig Spencer MD MPH, Director of Global Health in Emergency Medicine at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, gave a harrowing first-person account of daily life for clinicians under the pandemic. With unfortunate reports wrongly comparing coronavirus to the seasonal flu spreading throughout the country when the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen first arrived in the States, tackling complacency towards the disease has been a problem throughout America.

New York City has been particularly hard hit, emerging as the epicenter of the crisis in the US. With more than 26,000 confirmed cases as of March 24, it accounts for around half of all US confirmed cases and over a third of all deaths. Through his tweets, Dr Spencer hopes to drive home the message to New Yorkers, and Americans as a whole, that the situation is grave but they can help. 

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Having worked extensively in infectious diseases, Dr Spencer’s past work experience saw him contract the deadly Ebola virus. In 2015, after treating patients in West Africa, he was diagnosed and treated in New York City for the viral hemorrhagic fever, which on average kills 50 percent of those infected.

Despite having survived such a deadly illness, Dr Spencer states that he’s worried about COVID-19 and is making a direct plea to anyone who is still under the impression that it’s tantamount to "just another" strain of flu to take physical distancing seriously. 

Find out what the situation on the ground is in Italy, where confirmed cases and deaths have overwhelmed health care centers.

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