Here is the lead into the Daily Beast Friday Digest
Quote of the Day: “It feels like we are on a sinking ship.”
That’s [what one Arizona emergency physician told our Emily Shugerman][ducey] about the coronavirus surge there. State officials reported over 3,200 new cases yesterday, more per capita than anywhere else except Florida. Arizona doctors are working 100 hours a week, and nurses are falling sick. These front-line providers are exhausted, scared—and angry at Gov. Doug Ducey, who has refused to issue a mask mandate or radically roll back the state’s reopening.
FYI: The ER doc mentioned above is none other than Dr.Matt Heinz.
Matt Heinz, a hospital physician in Tucson, Arizona, remembers the day he knew a coronavirus surge was coming. Or really, it was two days: a night shift that stretched from the evening of June 3 into the early hours of June 4, when Heinz admitted four patients suspected of having COVID–19, instead of the usual one or zero. It was a little over two weeks after Gov. Doug Ducey allowed the state’s lockdown order to expire, Heinz said, and “it was like someone flipped a switch.”
“And someone did flip a switch,” said Heinz, a former Democratic state representative who also served in the Department of Health and Human Services. “It was the governor.”
As cases in Arizona skyrocket, physicians told The Daily Beast they feel increasingly abandoned by Ducey, who was one of the first leaders in the country to lift lockdown restrictions this spring. Despite the state’s record-setting spike in cases—and the urging of hundreds of health-care workers and multiple mayors—Ducey so far has refused to re-institute a lockdown order or issue a mask mandate, leaving doctors and nurses feeling helpless.
“You can’t bluff this virus,” said Quinn Snyder, an emergency physician in Mesa. “People keep trying to find shortcuts around the issues at hand, but the virus just doesn’t care about those kinds of shortcuts. It will win.”
“I have been trying to talk to people and speak up as much as possible,” he added. “And *it feels like we are on a sinking ship.*”
Similar scenes played out across the West and South this week. In Houston, residents are begging for a lockdown. In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom walked back his reopening after the state’s curve spiked. In Florida, where anti-lockdown Gov. Ron DeSantis has called the increase in cases “a blip,” nurses told us the situation had never been “crazier.” One of our medical contributors, Dr. Irwin Redlener, predicted that if drastic nationwide action isn’t taken, we could see a jaw-dropping 1 million cases a day and up to 800,000 deaths.
Scriber Takes a data break
According to worldometer.info the U.S. population was 331,101,407 at about 12:10 PM on Saturday, July 18. Redlener’s predictions mean, at the rate of a million each day, we have less than a year (331 days) before every man, woman, and child in the U.S. is infected.
Washington’s response? More chaos. The president’s allies are doing their best to undermine the one person there many Americans feel they can trust: Dr. Anthony Fauci. Messaging on whether schools can reopen safely seems hopelessly muddled. And the administration quickly rescinded its plan to oust foreign students who can’t attend in-person classes because they might contract a deadly disease.
There were glimmers of good news, I guess. President Trump wore a mask—after four months and almost 140,000 deaths. And one of the vaccine makers announced some promising results. But as the head of the CDC said, things will get worse before they get better. “I do think the fall and the winter of 2020 and 2021 are going to be probably one of the most difficult times that we experienced in American public health,” Dr. Robert Redfield cautioned.
And what is the WH doing? Sidelining CDC and sequestering the numbers.