Seattle Doctor Neil Kaneshiro ’85 Urges Caution in Reopening Country

By Neil Kaneshiro ’85

I am a primary care pediatrician who works just outside of Seattle. We also care for newborns at Evergreen Hospital and Medical Center in Kirkland, WA, which took the brunt of the initial COVID-19 outbreak in the country. Our local school district was the first in the nation to shut down. It has been a scary and stressful time for people in the medical profession. As physicians, we understand the risks to ourselves, and we do the best we can to stay protected through all the shortages of protective gear. We will take care of the patients who need us. That is our oath and our commitment. Our biggest fear, well, mine at least, is the potential to bring this illness home to our families. They took no oaths and made no promises and shouldn’t be placed in harm’s way, yet they are.

Many have died in this pandemic. However, the measures we all have taken to stay home have made a difference and saved lives. I thank you all for your efforts in that regard. Much of the country is now past the peak incidence of COVID-19 transmission. There has been much suffering in loss of life, loss of work, loss of financial stability and loss of those physical connections that we have taken for granted in the past. There will be strident calls to quickly lift social distancing restrictions and re-open the economy and the nation now that we are on the downswing of COVID-19. Care must be taken not to do so in haste. If the restrictions are removed too soon without the capability to contain the inevitable new infections, we may see a large resurgence of the outbreak. That would be a tragedy.

There will again be a time for children play with their friends and go to school. There will again be a time for us to meet face to face, shake hands and share embraces. There will again be a time for people to gather for birthday parties, holidays, weddings and sadly, funerals. If we are careful, all these will happen, but not yet. Stay safe, stay healthy.

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