Clinicians at small hospitals throughout the country are bracing for a “twindemic” of flu and covid-19, which could deplete stockpiles of personal protective equipment.
“I worry the most about the ability of the workforce to step into the ring again,” said Brendan Carr, chair of emergency medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. He said that hospital had been working hard to provide psychological support for battle-hardened health-care workers who have had few opportunities to recharge.
Even without covid-19, the flu is an unpredictable challenge each winter. Every year over the past decade, it has caused between 140,000 and 810,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 and 61,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The numbers differ dramatically, depending on many factors, including the severity of the strain, the efficacy of the vaccine and how willing people are to adjust their behaviors, for instance not going to work when they feel sick.