Leslie Marshall: Despite vaccine, COVID rages on — keep taking precautions, as my Dr. husband battles pandemic

on Dec15
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My husband is one of the many dedicated health care workers who are soldiers in the war on COVID-19 — an enemy that has killed more than 300,000 people in the U.S. and more than 1.6 million around the world this year.

We are all thankful that the first vaccine against the deadly disease has now received an emergency use authorization in the U.S. and has been approved in a few other countries as well. Vaccinations began Monday in some American cities.

But make no mistake: the COVID-19 pandemic is raging in the U.S. and around the world, hospitals are filling up, and people will keep getting sick and dying for months to come before the vast majority of us are vaccinated. The nightmare facing our health care professionals continues.


Now is not the time to let down our guard. It is time to be more careful and cautious than ever. 

Imagine how earth-shattering it would be if an enemy dropped a nuclear bomb on a major U.S. city and killed 300,000 Americans all at once. That toll would be greater than the estimated 130,000 to 215,000 people who died as a result of the two U.S. atomic bombings of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that ended World War II.

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And yet, incredibly, the slow-moving viral bombing of America that has now killed more than 300,000 of us is still doubted by some as a hoax and viewed as nothing to be overly concerned about. This makes as much sense as doubting whether cancer or heart disease exist.

My husband and other health care professionals who are risking their lives to battle the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 know it’s no hoax and know it is a very real killer.

As an orthopedic surgeon, my husband usually doesn’t treat patients suffering from infectious diseases. But he works in hospital emergency rooms in Los Angeles that are being overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, where every doctor and other medical professional is needed to deal with patients fighting for their lives against the invisible killer.

After working for seven straight days on call in emergency rooms, my husband came home a few days ago looking tired, depressed and dare I say defeated. I have never seen him like th

As the wife of a physician, I am angered, frustrated, irritated and upset by those who simply do not understand the severity of the situation we are faced with and are denying reality.

“I have never seen anything like this before,” my husband told me. “They’re (again) canceling all non-emergency surgeries. The hospital is hurting. The ICU is running out of beds and they’re building tents in the parking lot. I have never seen so many people code (in emergency need of resuscitation to avoid death) in one day.” 

My husband added: “A pulmonologist I work with said, ‘We are so tired. We need a break and the people don’t care, so why should we?’”

As the wife of a physician, I am angered, frustrated, irritated and upset by those who simply do not understand the severity of the situation we are faced with and are denying reality.

The reason that intensive care units in hospitals around the country are running out of beds and staff to care for patients is that millions of people are not complying with social distancing, are gathering with others unnecessarily outside their homes, and are not wearing masks.

WE are the reason this virus is spreading. WE are the reason many of our hospitals have run out of space in their intensive care units and are stretched to the breaking point.

What particularly upsets me is that when COVID-19 strikes, those who refuse to comply with commonsense public health measures are often the first ones in line begging for medical care.

And it further upsets me that the fight against the coronavirus has become politicized. Like an atomic bomb falling from the sky, the coronavirus doesn’t care if you are a Democrat, Republican, independent, Socialist, Communist, or anything else. The virus attacks blindly whenever it has the opportunity, spreading from person to person.

An incredible 72.6 million people around the world have been confirmed to be infected with COVID-19, including 16.3 million in the U.S. And experts agree that the real number of coronavirus infections is much higher, because many people who are infected have little or no symptoms and never seek medical care, and so are never counted as having the disease.

By way of comparison, the population of New York City is 8.3 million, the population of my home city of Los Angeles is almost 4 million, and the population of Chicago is nearly 2.7 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Add up all three and you have fewer people that have been confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 in the U.S.

Like his fellow health care workers, my husband knows that COVID-19 is all too real, and that every one of us must take it seriously by wearing masks, social distancing when we have to go out, and staying home as much as we can. Holiday gatherings have to be skipped this year to literally keep us from killing each other.

I tweeted recently about my husband’s conversation with me and about my anger – about how I became emotional and how I cried. Over 1 million people viewed that tweet and many responded.

There were some people who read my tweet and said my husband and other health care workers are heroes. There were those that related to my frustration. There were those who shared their own stories.

One person commented: “My student’s dad has COVID pneumonia, here in LA County. They are low income, Spanish speaking. He went to the hospital but they sent him home with a pulse oximeter because it’s so crowded. He is really sick and they are terrified.”

Another woman wrote: “My husband says same where he works. No beds. People piling in. People coding. Hang in there. I’m with you.”

And another person wrote: “I am so so sorry. I’m a healthcare spouse as well, and the spring/summer was terrible in our region. So many of our friends & colleagues are suffering both mentally & physically, under the weight of this task.”

But there were also comments by the naysayers. Those who think that I, the medical community, our politicians and the media are lying about both the virus and the numbers. They don’t believe the intensive care units are filling up despite data reported daily.

The bottom line is that the coronavirus pandemic is real and will only get worse before it gets better. In many parts of the country, cold temperatures have forced more people indoors — where the coronavirus spreads more easily — and temperatures are dropping with the arrival of winter.

The Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks killed nearly 3,000 people in the U.S. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 killed 2,403 Americans. These horrific events are seared in the memory of everyone old enough to have lived through them. But already, the daily death toll in the U.S. from COVID-19 has exceeded these terrible numbers on several days.


“We are in the timeframe now that probably for the next 60 to 90 days we’re going to have more deaths per day than we had at 9/11 or we had at Pearl Harbor,” Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said last week.

Please believe the doctors, nurses and other health care experts who are warning us to change our behavior.

If you don’t believe COVID-19 is really all that bad, please go to your local hospital and offer to volunteer.


If you don’t care about my life, my husband’s life, my children’s lives, or people over the age of 70 dying at record numbers, could you possibly care about your own life and the lives of your loved ones?

Wearing a mask, social distancing and staying home with just your immediate family as much as you can is, quite literally, a matter of life and death. At some point in 2021, vaccinations will hopefully end the coronavirus nightmare in our country. Until then, we need to take the precautions necessary to save lives. And the life you save could be your own.


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