Not only does the daily news never seem good, but the bad news seems to be escalating out of control. It is constantly repeated and, as a result, worsened. I admit it is a pattern I am by no means immune to. Fighting negativism and the crisis mode we find ourselves in challenges us all. For me, being of a positive frame of mind has long been a tenet in my life, as well as a principle of the law of attraction. As the bible says, “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:24). Inversely, negative thinking will only beget a negative experience.
As I thought about this, I was reminded of a quote I shared earlier this month by Michael Pittaro in Psychology Today: “When our bodies remain in crisis mode … (stress hormones) cortisol and adrenaline can wreak havoc on our physical and mental wellbeing because the threat remains very real and pervasive.” As Time magazine has reported, as a result, “Feelings of hopelessness and other depression symptoms in adults across the country has more than tripled since the pandemic began.”
In thinking about the toll of negativism, I stumbled upon a self-help column in the natural therapies and medicines website Reset.me written by professional life coach Nanice Ellis in 2015. She admits she is well acquainted with overwhelming negative thoughts and the struggle to overcome the chronic depression they can bring on. “All negative thinking is fear-based,” she reminds us.
“Your thoughts create your reality,” she says. By not being aware of our negative mental state, we become victims of its reactive ways. “If you only focus on what’s wrong, you miss the ‘purpose of issues.’ Every issue offers a solution that helps us to evolve.” That’s something to think about. Now for some positive news from the pandemic you may have missed.
“We have very much replicated what’s been seen worldwide, which is over time the mortality in ICUs have decreased,” Dr. Craig Coopersmith, director of the Emory Critical Care Center, recently explained on NPR.
“We should applaud and appreciate the medical community for being able to find rapid ways to improve the outcome of this life-threatening illness,” Dr. George Lemp, an epidemiologist and former director of the HIV/AIDS Research Program at UC’s Office of the President, tells The Mercury News.
“New data reveals that while patients are still being rushed to intensive care units, a greater proportion are coming out alive. Since the pandemic began, the cumulative death rate for Californians with COVID-19 has fallen by more than half in the past three months,” writes the Mercury News’ Lisa Krieger.
Coopersmith, who oversees ICUs at five hospitals in the Emory system, notes that mortality in ICUs has decreased in the range of 20% to 50%. He attributes this to several reasons. “A big one,” writes NPR’s Richard Harris, “is that, when the first wave of Covid-19 hit Atlanta’s hospitals in April, doctors had no experience with the disease. Medical management of these patients is now, by comparison, routine.”
“The phenomenon is driven by more than statistics,” according to University of California, San Francisco epidemiologist Dr. George Rutherford. “As we gain greater experience with novel infections, mortality goes down.”
“Doctors can better handle common and serious complications like blood clots,” writes Harris. “They realized that patients do better if they aren’t lying on their backs all the time. Patients in Emory hospitals are encouraged to spend some time lying on their stomachs. That simple effort sometimes is enough to keep them out of the intensive-care unit.”
Like many medical centers, Emory had not been using steroids routinely to treat COVID-19 until a major study from the United Kingdom showed that these drugs reduce the risk of death among seriously ill patients. “In just a few months we have a drug which is easily available everywhere and quite cheap, and which improves survival significantly in the ICU patient population,” Coopersmith points out.
Other significant developments include improvements in better information-sharing between doctors with more communication and collaboration. At Emory, all the attending physicians shared their observations and ideas with one another on a daily text chat. “And in that we find the art of medicine,” says Coopersmith.
Says Dr. Alan Chausow, chair of Pulmonary Medicine at Palo Alto Medical Foundation and medical director of the Critical Care Unit at Mountain View’s El Camino Hospital, “Now we’re practicing more evidence-based medicine” as clinicians share information and become more skilled at deploying different tactics. “We’ve also learned to be especially vigilant in the prevention of other infections,” he adds.
Initially seen as a last-ditch measure, doctors now recognize the value of putting people on mechanical ventilation early and have gotten better at fine-tuning ventilation and “understanding the optimal amount of oxygen, pressure and time between breaths,” according to Dr. Andra Blomkalns, chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Stanford Medicine.
As recently reported by Reuters, Eli Lilly has now partnered with Amgen to increase the supply of its experimental monoclonal COVID-19 antibody treatments after they were shown to reduce the need for hospitalization. Eli Lilly “reported that a single infusion of its experimental antibody treatment cut hospitalizations and emergency room visits for clinical trial patients with moderate Covid-19,” says Reuters. The research has yet to be published or reviewed by independent scientists.
Let us take a moment of pride and amazement at what our medical community has been able to achieve over the past six months while there remains no cure for COVID-19 and, across the United States, hundreds of people still die daily from it.