(@roto_tudor/Twitter) HEALTH Viral Image Hints at The Brutal Reality of Life And Death in The US Right Now PETER DOCKRILL 7 DECEMBER 2020
After what feels like the most merciless, unforgiving year in living memory, 2020 is drawing to a fateful close. With it, hope springs eternal that 2021 will bring something different, safer, and happier.
Early signs look promising, if yet uncertain. In recent weeks, news of multiple coronavirus vaccines finally nearing readiness have brought an iota of positivity and relief to millions around the world.
But we're not there yet.
As 2020 ends, a grim, heartbreaking image sums up just how much this year has taken from so many, as the pandemic normalises things that would have seemed alien just a year ago.
This viral photo, taken in a hospital, shows something that at first glance seems perhaps a bit unusual, but also largely unremarkable: dozens of iPads set up on stands in a largely empty storage room.
These are iPad stations being prepared for virtual ICU end of life visits by a palliative care doc I know. Jesus. pic.twitter.com/lIgbg0FhaL
— i cant drive, n95 (@roto_tudor) December 3, 2020
It's only when you know what all the iPads are for that you realise how much sadness and heartbreak this room of tablets represents.
"These are iPad stations being prepared for virtual ICU end of life visits by a palliative care doc I know," a rural doctor posted on Twitter, sharing the image. "Jesus."
Virtual ICU (intensive care unit) end-of-life visits have sadly become a common way of saying goodbye for families and friends this year, with in-person visits difficult if not impossible in the conditions of the pandemic.
Without the ability to say goodbye face to face, countless thousands of families now must resort to saying goodbye over a screen – the closest they can come when farewelling somebody they love, and will never see again.
With new COVID–19 infections, hospitalisations, and deaths from the virus breaking records in the US, the photo depicts a phenomenon in human interaction that sadly won't be going away any time soon.
While vaccines are expected to start seeing release soon, given the current virus trends, experts say the next few months will likely be the hardest of all.
"It's almost an exponential curve," immunologist, Anthony Fauci, director at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told The New York Times in late November, commenting on the surging growth in cases that began swelling in September.
"When you have an exponential curve up like that, by the time it peaks and then comes ultimately down, the duration of the surge is much longer. I think that December, January and early February are going to be terribly painful months."
Amidst this miserable state of affairs, the photo of the iPads struck a viral chord, and has since been retweeted almost 40,000 times.
With everything going on, the doctor who shared the viral photo didn't find anything to celebrate in the photo's viral success.
But he did have some wise words of advice.
"So this weirdly got popular, which is not my thing. I don't have anything to promote," he tweeted.
"But you could give some cash to a food bank, or call an old friend and see how they're doing."