Some of you have really let your guard down.
I see you out riding bicycles in large packs and jogging in groups as if we weren’t still in the midst of a pandemic. Many of you have been hanging out with friends and loved ones.
Look, I get it. We’re all tired of staying inside and social distancing. It’s getting warmer. We want our lives back. But people are still getting infected with the coronavirus and dying from it, even as President Donald Trump accuses Democratic governors of deliberately slowing reopening to hurt him politically.
To everyone itching to stop quarantining, stay the course. Defer to health experts such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, who is warning that rushing to reopen will cause “needless suffering and death.”
Remember the experiences of COVID-19 survivors such as Brian Robinson. The 53-year-old father of seven was diagnosed in late March and recuperated in several medical facilities for weeks before finally making it back to his home in Garnet Valley, Delaware County, last week.
“It nearly killed me,” Robinson told me. “It’s like a computer hacker. It gets into your body and tries to find things that it can prey on to shut your body down for good.”
Robinson was hooked up to a ventilator for 15 days. He contracted bilateral pneumonia. His kidneys failed and he had to go on dialysis. Along the way, he lost 30 pounds.
“On Day 15, they extubated him,” recalled Caryn Cabbler, a registered nurse and Robinson’s sister. “His vocal cords were bruised.… He couldn’t talk. He couldn’t eat. He couldn’t swallow. He couldn’t walk. He had to learn to do everything all over again. He was in the hospital for a total of 42 days — from the beginning to getting out of rehab.”
All that time, he was quarantined away from his family.
“A few times his nurse would let us get on the phone together and talk to him just so he could hear our voices although he wasn’t awake,” said Dawn Robinson McCall, another sister and the owner of the Redwood Beauty Studio in Bala Cynwyd. “We believe he could hear us and it helped him to know that we were … praying for him.”
When it was finally time to go home, Robinson managed to walk out of Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital. Cheering hospital workers lined the corridor to applaud as he made his way out of the facility on his own two feet.
“I had two goals. I wanted to come home to my wife, and I wanted to walk out of there,” Robinson told me, adding that he stayed an extra five days to do so. “I was so happy to be on my feet.”
But there was Robinson, who is a partner in Pizzeria Enza in Wyndmoor, standing tall as he thanked and hugged the health-care professionals who helped him survive. Although he still goes to physical therapy, he’s luckier than many since some COVID-19 survivors never completely recover. Robinson, who is uncertain about how he contracted the virus, says people need to continue social distancing.
“These politicians who are telling us that things are ready to be opened, my response to that is, ‘When I see you and your family down at the mall, then you’ll see me and my family down at the mall,'" he said. "If y’all are not going down there, then I’m not going down there.”