This is big news and it’s being suppressed. Dr. Steven Shapiro, the chief medical officer of Pennsylvania’s huge and powerful UPMC medical system, is calling for an end to the lockdowns.
“At the peak, 110 of UPMC’s 5500 hospital beds were #Covid patients. “What we cannot do is extended social isolation.”
As we prepared for the pandemic, we radically transformed our hospital operations to create a safe environment for patients and staff, we delayed non-urgent surgery, reducing it by 70%, and we scaled up telemedicine 38-fold, performing 250,000 visits in April.
We indeed saw a steady stream of patients but never “surged.” At the peak in mid-April, COVID-19 patients occupied 2% of our 5,500 hospital beds and 48 of our 750 ventilators. Subsequently, admissions have been decreasing with very few patients now coming from the community, almost all now being from nursing homes. Of note, in the 36 UPMC-owned senior facilities we have had zero positive cases.
Our outcomes are similar to the state of Pennsylvania, where the median age of death from COVID-19 is 84 years old. The few younger patients who died all had significant preexisting conditions. Very few children were infected and none died. Minorities in our communities fared equally as well as others, but we know that this is not the case nationally. In sum, this is a disease of the elderly, sick, and poor.
We are now actively bringing back our patients for essential care following CMS guidelines. To assure a safe environment, we use adequate PPE and test all, even asymptomatic, preoperative patients for active viral infection with PCR. To date, 0 out of 1,000 tested positive in western Pennsylvania, New York and Maryland. 3 of 500 are positive in central Pennsylvania. Our community prevalence is low, which we will soon confirm with antibody testing.
Of course, we still need effective prevention and therapy. The scientific community has never worked so rapidly or collaboratively. UPMC and Pitt, home of Jonas Salk, has been in the thick of it. Intense efforts are underway to find antibodies that bind to the virus and prevent it from entering cells. Crude antibody-rich convalescent plasma is already being administered to patients, while the development of highly effective synthetic antibodies and vaccines is moving at breakneck speed.
He acknowledged there is still a lot we don’t know, but emphasized it is time to open back up:
The question before us is what will happen as we re-open society and how should we manage it? For New York and a handful of other cities with high case rates as a result of density, travel and socioeconomic issues, they must open up in a measured step-wise manner with extensive testing, tracing and treatment.
But for the rest of the country, as people come out of their homes cautiously and safely, if we protect our vulnerable seniors, particularly those in nursing homes, we should be able keep case rates low, buying time for a potential resurgence as we bolster our supply chain and find effective intervention.
COVID-19 is a disease that ravages those with preexisting conditions – whether it be immunosenescence of aging or the social determinants of health. We can manage society in the presence of this pathogen if we focus on these preexisting conditions.
Then he explained why:
What we cannot do, is extended social isolation. Humans are social beings, and we are already seeing the adverse mental health consequences of loneliness, and that is before the much greater effects of economic devastation take hold on the human condition.
Finally, he talked about being better prepared the next time.
Dr. Steven Shapiro – chief medical officer of Pennsylvania’s huge and powerful @upmc medical system – calls for an end to lockdowns. At the peak, 110 of UPMC’s 5500 hospital beds were #Covid patients. “What we cannot do is extended social isolation.” https://t.co/yrUVkTkNwV
— Alex Berenson (@AlexBerenson) May 7, 2020