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The Atlantic: An ICU Doctor on How This Covid Wave Is Different

The Atlantic recently interviewed Isabel Pedraza, MD, director of the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Cedars-Sinai, about this year’s COVID-19 activity and recent hospitalizations.

California’s COVID-19-related death rates in February were lower than those of the past two years. Even with this decrease, Pedraza said the overall number of seriously ill patients being admitted to her unit is higher than ever before. Those with COVID-19 follow a general trend.

“It’s usually people who are most at risk for severe disease: the elderly, people who have lots of medical conditions—liver disease, kidney disease, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, immunocompromised, all of those things.” Pedraza told The Atlantic. “The past few people I’ve had have been unvaccinated. But you also see people who haven’t received the bivalent booster, or who received their third or fourth dose maybe a year ago and have a lot of other organ disease.”

Pedraza explained that treating the virus is “a lot less chaotic” now given the information that exists to save lives, but it’s also disheartening to know it can be preventable.

“It’s weird to have people seeking you out to help them with their [long-COVID] symptoms or with saving their lives, people who listen to your medical advice and trust you there—but who think that you’re lying to them when you tell them a vaccine could be lifesaving,” Pedraza told The Atlantic. “It’s a bit demoralizing.”

Pedraza emphasized the importance of continuing to mask around strangers in crowded spaces for the sake of those in the community who are vulnerable or severely ill.

“I wish that, in the absence of a public-health department recommending masks, people would just think more of others. If you’re in an Uber or someplace where you’re really close to people, you don’t know what those other people are dealing with. You don’t know if they’re undergoing chemotherapy or if they have a loved one at home who’s sick,” she told The Atlantic.  

Click here to read the complete story on The Atlantic.