Date: October 28, 2020
Subject: Public Health Update
From: Tom McLarney, MD
To Our Wesleyan Community,
As we reach the end of October, we are unfortunately seeing an alarming new resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Connecticut; across the U.S. with some states reaching record highs; and around the world, particularly in Europe. This appears to be the long-anticipated “second wave” of COVID. There are different theories about the second wave—whether this is the natural course of SARS-CoV-2; the result of pandemic fatigue and lax behavior; or the impending winter months and activities moving indoors, which we suspect is less safe than outdoors. Whatever the cause, cases are most definitely rising and experts fear we may be in for a very bad winter.
Thankfully, at this time, cases in Middletown and on Wesleyan’s campus remain relatively low and our alert level remains at green. We know this can change very quickly, so we are keeping a close eye on what is happening locally, state-wide, and beyond, and carefully considering all aspects of campus life as they relate to COVID. This is also why it is so important that we do not let the aforementioned pandemic fatigue get the best of us. We must all continue to follow the COVID safety rules on campus, including mask wearing, social distancing, avoiding large gatherings, good handwashing, and staying home when sick. I’ll refer you to the Keep Wes Safe website as a great resource for COVID safety information.
With Election Day around the corner, we’ll also be welcoming many members of the Middletown community onto our campus for the first time this fall. There will be signage posted and staff members available to ensure compliance with Wesleyan’s mask wearing and social distancing requirements. I urge you all to be role models of safe behavior!
While the overall picture of rising cases is disturbing, there is, however, some good news. Although hospitalizations are up, death rates have decreased. This may be due to the development of more effective in-patient treatments over the past seven months. We now have a number of treatments available for the sickest patients, including Remdesivir (which is now approved by the Food and Drug Administration), Dexamethasone, convalescent plasma (though one recent study showed no benefit), and alternatives to intubation and mechanical ventilation (which has shown poor outcomes, likely due to trauma of COVID-induced lung damage).
That said, there is not yet a vaccine available, though several are moving along quickly through clinical trials and could be available later this year or early next (though they won’t be ready for widespread distribution for some time after that). There are also no effective preventative treatments nor treatments for patients with asymptomatic or mild disease. And we still do not know all the long-term effects of COVID-19, though it appears that there may be persistent fatigue and lasting damage to the heart, lungs, and brain.
In summary, the pandemic is far from over and things may very well get worse before they get better. Stay well and safe. And please get out and vote in whichever way you feel the safest.
Tom McLarney, MD