The COVID-19 pandemic drags on, exhausting America’s EMS providers and many others in its healthcare system. The end may not yet be in sight, but fatigued front-liners got a strong message of support Tuesday from the nation’s top infectious-disease physician.
Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke to EMS leaders via a prerecorded closing message for the National EMS Management Association’s virtual meeting. NEMSMA’s event followed the second day of the Virtual Pinnacle Leadership Summit, moved online this year from its intended site of Phoenix.
Pinnacle condensed its program into three two-hour sessions. Tuesday featured a roundtable of EMS publishing leaders, including from EMS World, followed by an expert discussion of current disruptions in healthcare.
Fauci expressed deep gratitude to the leaders of NEMSMA and all EMS professionals for their “extraordinary contributions” to the U.S. public health response to COVID-19. “Your confidence working on the front lines,” even at heightened personal risk, “has been truly remarkable,” he said. “Your courage and commitment are genuinely heroic.”
What’s needed now from EMS is resiliency, Fauci said. America initially flattened the virus’ curve, but some states reopened too early, and not all citizens followed safety guidelines, leading to a resurgence in many places. It’s a large, diverse country, Fauci noted, meaning solutions must be tailored locally.
It will take “sustained discipline” to gain an upper hand, and we’ll need heightened vigilance into fall and beyond. States like New York and Massachusetts have provided encouraging examples of slowing COVID’s spread using the public health tools currently in hand. Those measures, Fauci said—handwashing, masking, distancing—“are the pathway, not obstacles, to reopening.”
Expressing cautious optimism about a vaccine by early 2021, Fauci exhorted EMS providers to dig deep and summon their resolve. “Together we can do this—we can end this terrible scourge,” he said. “Please stay safe and look out for one another.”