SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — As protests sparked by George Floyd continue to wage on in the Bay Area and across the country, local medical experts are coming together to discuss how the mass gatherings are impacting COVID-19 as well as a range of issues.
Their primary concern is COVID-19, but also talked about other topics hitting closing to home.
Across the Bay Area and beyond, thousands are taking to the streets in response of the killing of George Floyd.
“To see many people from all walks of life from 50 states and actually all over the world gives me hope that people care,” Mark Smith, MD, MBA and founding president and CEO (now retired) of the California Health Care Foundation said.
As they do so many are wearing masks but almost no one is 6-feet apart.
“At the same time, I recognize there is a pandemic going on and I worry about those protesters,” Smith said.
In this Zoom discussion moderated by Dr. Rob Wachter, Chair of Medicine at UCSF, medical experts discussed the waging war against COVID-19 but it’s been tough to remind people about the virus.
“We have a country that reads two different narratives or sees two different sets of realities and the question is can you imagine something that unifies people towards a common end towards this political environment,” Wachter said.
“I’m an optimist, this is the moment and things are changing but it’s up to us to keep that momentum going, it’s not just going to happen organically,” Abraham Verghese, MD, Senior Associate Chair at Stanford Medicine said.
Experts weighed in on the impact of social determinants on health.
“This pandemic shows us the inequity that we talk about in our healthcare system, they’re not just shocking they’re deadly,” Sue Desmond-Hellmann, MD, former president of product development Genentech said.
“I think we have a long way to go and unfortunately the institutions and parts of the country that are least well served are ones that are going to be hurt for a whole bunch of reasons in the aftermath of all of this,” Ian Morrisson, former president of the Institute of the Future said.
As the country faces the dual challenges of COVID-19 and protests, participants say just having this conversation is a step in the right direction.
“It didn’t begin with George Floyd. It begun in 1619 you could say and I think we’re all trying to – we want narrative out of this,” Verghese said.
There was also talks about pivoting more to tele medicine and navigating the financials of American healthcare after taking a hit from COVID-19.
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