COVID-19 Daily: Critical Drug Shortages,
In Memoriam

Ellie Kincaid

April 02, 2020

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's  Coronavirus Resource Center.

Here are the coronavirus stories Medscape's editors around the globe think you need to know about today.

Drug Shortages On the Front Line

In addition to shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators, hospitals are also facing a shortage of ventilator-associated drugs. Usually, hospitals could fill 95% of orders for such drugs. In the last month, that rate has dropped to 60% or 70%, and it continues to decrease by about 3% daily, an industry expert says. Meanwhile, demand is skyrocketing.

Physicians "Sent Into War With Pool Noodles"

Everything in the intensive care unit is different with COVID-19, says Stanford University ICU doctor Angela Rogers, MD, MPH, on a Medscape podcast. Families can't stay with loved ones in the hospital. Physicians are learning on the fly, texting friends at other institutions to compare notes. And adequate PPE is a constant concern. She recalled an online thread where someone wrote, "It feels like we're being sent into a war with pool noodles."

NYU Med Student: "Time to Step Up"

Gabriel Redel-Traub is a fourth-year medical student at the New York University Grossman School of Medicine. Last week, he received an email asking him to graduate early and join NYU's staff in treating COVID-19 patients. In a first-person account for Medscape, he describes his complicated emotions as he considered, and finally accepted, the call. 

"I'm scared of winding up paralyzed and intubated," he writes. "But I have also realized that all we have is each other…This is my time to be there for others, unwaveringly."

San Diego Doctor Leading the Charge

Nick Yphantides, MD, chief medical officer of San Diego County in California, lost his father in the 2009 pandemic of H1N1 swine flu. His memory of his father is one of the factors that drives him in leading the COVID-19 response for the 3.3 million residents of San Diego county. 

"I see this as the Super Bowl of public health," he said.

Free Therapy for Front-Line Workers

Thousands of licensed psychologists, psychotherapists, and social workers have signed up to offer free therapy sessions to healthcare professionals on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"If there ever were a time when we can use all the emotional support possible, then it would be during a global pandemic," said a psychiatrist. 

New Orleans Death Rate

Doctors in New Orleans are concerned that the Louisiana city has a per-capita death rate from COVID-19 that is seven times that of New York and 10 times that of Seattle, Reuters reports. New Orleans residents have higher rates of obesity, diabetes, and hypertension than the national average, which makes them more vulnerable to COVID-19. 

"We're just sicker," said the state's former health secretary. 

Case Numbers Concealed?

The US has now publicly reported more than twice as many cases of COVID-19 than China has. A classified report from the US intelligence community to the White House says China has underreported both total COVID-19 cases and deaths from the disease, concealing the extent of its outbreak, Bloomberg News reports.

In Memoriam

As front-line healthcare workers care for patients with COVID-19, they commit themselves to difficult, draining work and also put themselves at risk of infection. More than 100 of them throughout the world have died. 

Medscape has published a memorial list to commemorate them. We will continue updating this list as, sadly, needed. Please help us ensure this list is complete by submitting names with an age, profession or specialty, and location through this form.

Ellie Kincaid is Medscape's associate managing editor. She has previously written about healthcare for Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, and Nature Medicine.

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