If you are one of those smug idiots who do not think that masks are necessary you should probably read this.

Courtesy of the LA Times:

They beg for help. They flail. Their eyes fill with terror.

“We have people that are sitting in bed and they’re breathing like they’re running a marathon at full speed,” said Dr. Adupa Rao, a pulmonologist and critical-care specialist at Keck Hospital of USC.

“They’re breathing so fast and so deep, they’re trying to catch their breath,” Rao said. “It’s almost like you’re watching a goldfish out of water, gasping to get air, and it can never get enough.”

Manny Khodadadi, an emergency-room nurse at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, described the scene there in nearly identical terms.

For patients, “it’s like being under water and trying to swim toward the top and you can’t get your nose above the top of the water,” Khodadadi said.

He’s been an ER nurse for 10 years after working as a paramedic and ambulance driver, but Khodadadi described the virus as an invisible enemy, with hospitals as battlefields. He recalls one surge of patients rushed in from convalescent homes. Many of them were in foggy, altered states, unable to provide their names or other basics. On some days the flow of patients is brisk and constant, some of them mildly ill and some in a panic.

“They struggle, try to get out of bed, try to pull things off and leave…. Some of them may even be saying, ‘Help me, help me, help me. I can’t breathe. Help me,’ ” Khodadadi said. “They say, ‘Save my life, now.’ In so many words, and without words. Just by the way they look at you. They want to grab you, as if I have some magic medicine I could give them, and I wish I did.”

It didn’t have to be this way. The United States has had nearly twice as many COVID-19 deaths as the next closest country after five months of failed national leadership, haphazard local policies on testing, tracing and reopening, and widespread public resistance to basic, simple precautions that could have saved lives.

The anticipated summer lull has instead become a summer surge, with record-setting numbers of new cases in California and elsewhere. (Remember when President Trump predicted confidently that warm weather would kill the virus?)

And yet we still see mind-boggling resistance to change. Just a few days ago, in our own backyard, the Orange County Board of Education recommended that schools reopen without masks or distancing.

Would we act differently if more of us had lost someone, or if we cared about the risk we’re exposing healthcare workers to? Most who test positive end up recovering, which might be one reason for blase attitudes. But would we take the pandemic more seriously if we knew what it’s like to die a COVID-19 death?

Here is more:

Palliative medicine strives to offer the most comfort and dignity possible for critically ill patients, but families still struggle to determine whether life is being extended or death is being prolonged. Puri said some critical COVID patients are being pronated in special beds in an attempt to reoxygenate damaged lungs, but the side effects can be extreme.

“The pressure buildup from fluids can cause parts of the face and other parts of the body to fluff off,” Puri said. It’s “kind of grotesque,” she added, and it’s difficult even for medical staff to witness.

Khodadadi told me about a convalescent home employee in his 30s who arrived by ambulance in full cardiac arrest.

“We did CPR, we worked on him, we did everything,” said Khodadadi, but the young man died.

“We have to understand that we are at war here. We are dealing with an enemy that is microscopic, something we can’t see,” Khodadadi said. “If we were in World War II we could see the airplanes coming, see the tanks, see the people running through the fields shooting at us. In this war we can’t see the enemy. It’s a surprise attack and the tools we have to fight this are our masks, properly worn masks, and keeping our hands clean.”

Khodadadi said he fears getting exposed and taking the virus home to a young daughter with an autoimmune disease. He said his best stress release valve is talking things through with front-line colleagues, such as a nursing buddy who recently had a particularly bad shift.

“I asked him how he was doing and he said, “Man, I just sat in the car and cried today. I thought it wouldn’t end. It was like the ‘Twilight Zone.’ ”

You might become infected and have relatively mild symptoms, but man if you are unlucky enough to get a serious infection you could die in one of the most horrible ways imaginable. 

Or survive and have your health compromised for the remainder of your life.

If I can avoid that by simply wearing a mask and practicing social distancing you can bet your ass I am going to do it. 

And I have no idea why others do not feel the same.