I had a dream last night, it was about the President of the United States of America. In my dream the President addressed the nation in prime time. He looked at the camera and said “I make this promise to you, no American will die in this country from the corona virus because of a lack of healthcare” he stated. “No physician will have to decide who lives and who dies because of a lack of ventilators. No family will have to have to be told by a doctor that there isn’t enough supplies to treat their family member. No healthcare worker will die because they didn’t have the equipment to protect themselves.” Then he revealed the plan, Operation Eradicate, it was a shock and awe approach. He explained the government would ramp up testing, conducting hundreds of thousands of tests in just a few days. They would know exactly how active the disease was in every part of the country. Then they could increase restrictions in more severe areas, and reduce them in areas with little to no activity.
They would work with companies to undertake a massive increase in the production of medical supplies like protective equipment and ventilators. The President would use his Emergency powers to nationalize ICU beds and their supply chains. That way they would know exactly how many ICU beds, supplies, and personnel were in every region. Since they knew the viral activity in a given area, they could predict when there would be an increase in cases. He explained that they would preemptively surge equipment and personnel to those areas, and supplement them with additional mobile ICU units from the military. While he reassured us that there was a plan, he was also honest. He made it clear that there would be difficult times ahead. He told us that things would get far worse before they got better. But they would get better.
The dream was preceded by a nightmare I had experienced a few hours earlier. In the nightmare I sat in a room packed full of some of the brightest and most talented physicians that I know. We talked about the challenges that loomed before us, a lack of protective gear, a lack of testing supplies, and a lack of ventilators and ICU beds to treat the coming crush of patients. Someone asked the question that was on everyone’s mind. “What do we do when there are more patients than ventilators?” We all looked sheepishly at each other, no one had an answer.
I awoke in a fit. The dream and the nightmare. The sweat on my brow made it clear which one was real.