Up until now, I’ve been blessed to live in the greatest time in human history. Born in the late 1950s, I lived through a period with nothing like the plagues and wars of the past. Born too late to go to Vietnam and too early to go to Afghanistan, even our minor wars barely touched me directly. The economic calamities of my time—a gas crisis in the 1970s and a banking collapse in the late 2000s—were temporary blips that, while disconcerting, had no long-term impact on my life.
With coronavirus disease (COVID-19), our generation is seeing a plague of what has been for us unprecedented proportions. The number of Americans who will die from it will be large. The economic impact of trying to minimize the effect of this scourge will be enormous. There will likely be resulting long-term shifts in how we organize our lives that will dwarf anything we have seen before.
With such a huge impact in general, dermatology will be affected in more ways than all previous changes combined, a greater impact than we saw with CLIA and HIPAA and EMR. Not surprisingly, then, this issue is crammed with COVID-related content: primer on virology (page 40), patient handouts discussing current recommendations on treatment of psoriasis or eczema during the pandemic (pages 31 and 35, respectively), tips for a best “webside” manner during a telemedicine appointment (page 43), a medical student’s perspective of the impact on education/training (page 45), and coverage of the latest on canceled/postponed/upcoming meetings (page 10).
All that said, I am optimistic for the future. Humans and our economic system are malleable and will adapt to the new environment. Greater use of the internet will, at least in some ways, increase efficiency, eventually offsetting the massive economic slowdown that is going on now. While staffs in the office may shrink, at least in the short run, we may find greater use for people to be involved in home-based health delivery (much as restaurants will shrink wait staff and increase home delivery personnel). A new economy will blossom in ways that I probably cannot imagine.
My perception may be biased by how well things have gone for the first 60 years of my life. I don’t think we’re going to need to hunker down in bunkers to survive this.
Editor’s Note: To better understand the impact of COVID-19 on our patients, there is a registry collecting information on the outcomes of COVID-infected psoriasis patients. If one of your psoriasis patients has had COVID-19, please report them at covidpso.org.