Letters to the Editor: We’re at the coronavirus tipping point, but not all hope is lost, says a doctor

A paramedic walks out of a tent that was set up in front of the emergency ward of the Cremona hospital in northern Italy on Feb. 20.
(Associated Press)

To the editor: In his op-ed article, David C. Unger, who is under lockdown in Italy, emphasizes that the exploding number of COVID-19 cases has overwhelmed the Italian healthcare system to the point that it can no longer adequately serve the population.

As the head of an urgent healthcare clinic through many emergencies over the years, I can take a somewhat longer view of our current situation with the coronavirus and what is ahead. In this emergency there are echoes of past crises in the rapid onset, the swift and indiscriminate spread, and the dire but avoidable consequences.

I have worked with some of the very best planners and innovators in these crisis situations, and I urge us all now, as planners, to imagine that the tipping point is now upon us or has passed. Fortunately, what has worked in some of the worst of these crises will work again. We certainly do need extra vigilance now so we are not wanting later.

We know where the resources are most needed right now — for hospital and clinic personnel, technical capacity and open collaboration between the sectors of our healthcare systems to support best practices. Staffing cannot be curbed until a full and clear end to the crisis is at hand.


Mark Dreskin, M.D., Los Angeles


To the editor: In light of this dreadful pandemic, I am sure public health and government officials have their hands full. However, I believe it is past time that robust social-distancing practices are broadly put into effect.

Minimizing bodily (even respiratory) interaction is -- along with conscientious hygiene including hand washing and no close contact -- the only means our society has to reduce this contagion.


Western University of Health Sciences has, on its own, ended classroom activities and other sizable campus activities, as are increasing numbers of other institutions. I would advise the entire region and even the country as a whole to do so as well.

It would be helpful if such directives were made by officials -- now. Let us not panic, but prepare and prevent however possible.

Daniel R. Wilson, M.D., Pomona

The writer is president of Western University of Health Sciences.



To the editor: I’ve read so many versions and variations on hand-washing songs that help people make sure they are really and truly spending the necessary 20 seconds washing hands with soap and water to protect against spreading the coronavirus.

I’ve decided to embrace my public hand washing to spread a message of hope that we can work together, not only to face this virus, but to embrace a healthier future with a strong sense of responsible and caring leadership back in place.

So when I wash my hands in public, I am singing out loud “This Little Light of Mine,” a gospel song that came to be an anthem of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. People sang this and other spirituals during the civil rights movement as a way of expressing unity as they fought for equal rights and freedom for everyone.


We can sing to declare that we are going to get through this together.

Pamela Briggs, Los Angeles