“We shall fight [the COVID-19] on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”
Winston Churchill speaking to Parliament on June 4, 1940 [COVID amendment by JSA]
Nazi Germany was planning to invade England, likely London. European nations had fallen, one after the other, before the fearsome military forces of Nazi Germany. Of course, we all know that the invasion never occurred, and 5 years later, with the United States playing a major role, Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich were annihilated. Today (July 11, 2020) the world is again involved in a global conflict against a new enemy, an enemy that is harder to see and harder to define: severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 19 (SARS COVID-19). Many individuals throughout the United States and the world have been sickened and many have succumbed. At this moment, the fight continues, shifting from one battleground to another.
We chose to continue working as inpatient doctors for the same reasons as Dr. Rieux, and we are still spending most of our days on the inpatient services of our university hospital. We are trying to lead our students and house staff during this pandemic so that they may learn from our compassion, dedication, empathy, and perseverance.
As many of our readership know, Arizona has now become one of the major hot spots for COVID-19 both in the United States and in the world.
The war against COVID-19 drags on. The hoped-for influenza-like course has not developed, and many opine that we will be fighting this scourge for many months or even years to come. The battles are being bravely waged by a variety of “health soldiers”: Clinicians and other health care workers, basic science and clinical investigators, and public health personnel. The health soldiers are from across the globe, not joined by nationality, ethnicity, or uniform, but rather joined by an ethical oath to care for those in need. Like the English referred to in Churchill’s quotation, we will continue to fight on many fronts and will never give up or surrender to the COVID-19 forces currently raging among us.
During this pandemic, we have received many emails from clinicians throughout the country recounting their personal experiences. The information and knowledge gained about COVID-19 is being passed on, from country to country, state to state, and hospital to hospital as health soldiers fight to keep patients safe. Every morning when we wake up and prepare for another day dressed in surgical scrubs and wearing N-95 masks, we remember Joan Baez singing “We shall overcome some day.” This gospel song was sung in the 1960s in support of the civil rights movement and the political forces arrayed against US involvement in Vietnam. Currently, this song represents our expectation of eventual victory over the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are aware that there are individuals in the United States and abroad who mistakenly feel that the COVID-19 “war” is some form of political trickery. During World War II, there were also many Americans who opposed our involvement in that conflict. To these misguided parties, we offer only our own witnessing of the 4 COVID wards in our hospital filled with desperately sick and, at times, dying patients. Just like the Nazi Third Reich, COVID-19 also represents a real and present danger to the life we have all come to enjoy. Make no mistake about it: If we are to defeat COVID-19, then we must all rally behind our health “generals” such as Dr. Anthony Fauci and not be misled by naysayers.
We are confident that in the future when we have conquered COVID-19, and conquer it we will, many stories will be told of the 2019-2020 pandemic and our various roles in the conquest. For those us born during and after World War II, the current struggle will be “our finest hour.”
As always, I love hearing from our readership at [email protected] or on our blog at amjmed.org.
The Splendid and the Vile. A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance during the Blitz.
Penguin Random House, LLC,
New York, NY2020
Borzoi Books/Alfred A. Knopf,
New York, NY1960
Life imitates art: the physician in a time of plague.
Am J Med. 2020; 133: 651https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjmed.2020.04.001
Leading the compassionate charge.
Circ Heart Fail. 2020; 13e007085
Published online: July 31, 2020
In Press Journal Pre-Proof
Conflicts of Interest: None.
Authorship: Both authors had access to the data and a role in writing this manuscript.
© 2020 Published by Elsevier Inc.