People have been deflecting attention away from the announcement of COVID-19 deaths for months now, pointing out that the vast majority of people who died from the virus had some type of preexisting health problem. Doctor Rochelle Walensky, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is one of them, and she found herself in hot water earlier this month after making similar remarks during an interview with the television network ABC News.
When asked about COVID-19 during the interview on January 7, Walensky stated that the majority of people who die from the virus have preexisting medical conditions. According to her, “the overwhelming majority of deaths—more than 75%—occurred in people who had at least four comorbidities.””So, in reality, they are folks who were already sick to begin with.” (According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a comorbidity is defined as the presence of one or more diseases or disorders in a single individual.) In addition, Walensky stated that this was “very good news in the context of Omicron.”
The list of comorbidities maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that enhance a person’s chance of acquiring a severe form of COVID-19 is extensive and includes everything from a family history of cancer to heart disease and diabetes.
Following the interview, Walensky and other CDC officials stepped out, stating that her words had been taken out of context and that she should not be held responsible. In a longer footage later broadcast by ABC News, Walensky stated in a longer clip that claimed “very important research” of 1.2 million vaccinated people discovered that only 0.003 percent of those who were vaccinated died from COVID-19. According to her, the majority of people who died had underlying medical issues. She also tweeted about people who have underlying health conditions, adding, “People with underlying health conditions.” People with comorbidities must be protected from the effects of severe COVID-19. I went into medicine—specifically HIV—and public health in order to safeguard those who are most vulnerable. Individuals with chronic health issues, impairments, and older people are among those who are being protected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “
One doctor took to Twitter a few days after Walensky’s remarks to describe what it’s like to live with a chronic health condition that is not curable.
Hello, my name is Sarah. I’m 35 years old and work as a doctor. In addition, I have a heart problem that puts me at a higher risk for significant consequences from COVID than the average person. # IHaveAPreexistingCondition Is the face of chronic illness different from what you had imagined? ” Along with a photo of herself reclining on a couch with a smile, Dr. Sarah M. Bernstein, assistant professor of paediatrics, division of neonatology at the University of Utah School of Medicine, wrote: “My life is important, and the lives of the almost 10,000 Americans who perished from COVID last week are as well.” Please feel free to submit your own image or narrative so that we can show the public what chronic illness looks like in real life. # IHaveAPreexistingCondition. “
Almost 60,000 people liked Bernstein’s tweet, which was retweeted more than 8,000 times, and there were numerous comments from other people who have underlying health concerns, according to Twitter.
In an interview with Yahoo Life, Bernstein explains that her job in a neonatal critical care unit was the inspiration for her tweet. According to her, “Every patient that I care for in the NICU begins their life with a damaged immune system,” she explains. They are unable to get immunised. They are unable to defend themselves. I wish I could share their photographs and tales with the public so that they could see the people who are being harmed by their decisions not to wear a mask or wash their hands, but I am unable to do so, therefore I have chosen to share my own. “
Bernstein suffers from a heart arrhythmia known as supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) as well as postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), and she has undergone heart surgery in an attempt to fix her erratic pulse. Besides taking pills twice a day to help manage the rhythm of her heart, she claims to be on a diet.
In Bernstein’s opinion, “I believe it is very easy for people to discount data and statistics, but it is much more difficult to dismiss an individual.” “If you tell me that only 0.4 percent of COVID deaths occur in children, I’ll tell you that over 12,000 children have died because of a preventable cause. The phrase “well, they had chronic ailments” elicits the response “those with underlying health problems don’t matter.” I suffer from a chronic condition. This is my face, and my life is significant. They, as well as I, are deserving of our efforts.”
Many of the people who responded to Bernstein’s post in the comments section had similar feelings. There are several of them. One is Teresa Pollack, a 33-year-old with type 1 diabetes, who posted a photo of herself smiling beside the message “to stay healthy today and tomorrow.”
Following Bernstein’s tweet, Pollack, who resides in Illinois, told Yahoo Life that she had decided to share her tale with the world. “I noticed that she looked similar to me,” she explains. When I read it, I was even sitting on my couch, just like she was. I’ve been suffering from type 1 diabetes for a very long time. For the most part, it’s something that isn’t immediately noticeable to the average individual. “
Pollack emphasises the fact that “Generally speaking, the general public believes that people who have preexisting diseases look a certain way, but there are a large number of us out there, and we’re all unique in our own way. You have no idea what people are going through, what they are dealing with, or what they have been through. “
Kit Chase, a 27-year-old asthmatic who lives in Illinois, found Bernstein’s message particularly poignant. The author of Yahoo Life says that people’s empathy for others is eroding as they get increasingly frustrated with government constraints. “The notion that, ‘Well, it’s not really affecting my life, so it’s not really an issue,’ has the potential to create a great deal of damage.”
In the words of Chase, “the disregard for the lives of people with preexisting diseases is horrible.” He goes on to say, “Sickness does not always manifest itself in the form of hospital beds, IVs, and ventilators. It can take on the appearance of a robust, energetic young adult or an innocently joyful youngster at times. Why should our lives be considered less important because of events beyond our control? “
Chase claims that the epidemic has resulted in “a great deal of isolation” for him. In his words, “I’ve been a martial artist for 22 years [and] I’ve been unable to train the way I used to or attend my karate lessons.” When I go for walks, I frequently find myself in the centre of the road in order to escape those who fail to maintain an acceptable degree of space when they pass me while wearing no face protection. I don’t eat in restaurants anymore. If my family goes out to eat, they either bring me something or I procure food on my own because I am uncomfortable being in the company of people who aren’t disguised in some way. “
In order to navigate the pandemic responsibly, Bernstein says she has had to maintain a “balance.” “Because I’m a physician, I’ve never been able to separate myself at home or work from a distance,” she explains. Working in a hospital and interacting with patients who have COVID automatically puts me at greater risk, so I do everything I can to minimise my exposure. To minimise my risk, I wear a mask, avoid enclosed spaces whenever possible, wash my hands frequently, and received the vaccine as soon as I was eligible, including the booster. I’ve also restricted my social circle to people who are taking similar precautions as I am in order to reduce my chances of being exposed to the virus. “
Pollack claims that she has learned to make judgments based on her own particular risk tolerance and willingness to take risks. The woman says she is taking advantage of “mitigation measures” such as immunizations and face masks. Is it possible for me to attend a performance with a million other people? Most likely not. Nonetheless, I am able to assess my own personal risk and make informed judgments about whether or not to attend a small gathering of friends and family members who I am confident have likewise received vaccinations and are following appropriate public-health practises. “
Bernstein continues, referring to the reaction to her tweet.
Because living with chronic disease, particularly an invisible illness, can be quite isolating, she says, “Seeing others connect through shared experiences has been a really significant experience for me.” The effort is more than worthwhile if just one person feels less alone, if just one person changes their attitude toward chronic illness, or if just one person takes extra care before going out in public.