I have become hooked on TWIV since the pandemic started and it is a privilege to be informed by scientists on the scientific aspects of COVID. Everything going on now with clinical progress, drugs, and vaccines is so fascinating that it makes me wish I had studied some form of bio engineering instead of electrical engineering. Thank you for the show.
Your episode 673, “Wake up and Smell the Pandemic” led me to write. You all came down soundly and with great moral judgment against the authors of the Barrington Declaration. My question for you is, how does a correct understanding of science lead you all to condemn this declaration, which is a value judgment and policy opinion? Don’t you also have to add in some of your own underlying personal and political values to get there, such as perhaps you all value reduced risk to physical life over personal liberty. Or you don’t believe there is much risk from unintended consequences of this level of public-health intervention in the functioning of society? But how are your views on either of these tradeoffs derived from your scientific expertise?
Would you all consider separating your political and personal values from your scientific thoughts when you pass judgments on things that get into the political realm? Both are good to have and express but it helps to distinguish between them. I feel that if generally secular, liberal leaning academic scientists could do a better job of separating their values from their factual knowledge, they could communicate better to much of the right-leaning segment of America.
Oct 21 – high was about 70F today, and the air is smoky due to continued Colorado front range fires
I wrote the email below about a month ago, but realize that it was never sent. I’m resending it, along with an article in today’s NY Times regarding the work I’ve been doing with various dance organizations. I BEGGED the journalist to include TWIV as a valuable source of information that helped me to formulate my protocols. Alas, the piece was running long and she could not include it. So here are my accolades and thanks for all of the work that you have done, and continue to do. Your contribution to not just my own fund of knowledge, but the general public’s source of facts, cannot be overstated.
Stay the course!
Wendy Ziecheck, M.D.
From The New York Times:
The Bubble Doctor Is In: She Keeps Dance Companies Moving
Dr. Wendy Ziecheck has found a new specialty: helping dancers to work together safely. “Testing was the key to making this happen,” she says.
Dear Esteemed Twivers,
I am “JUST” an Internist in private practice on the Gold Coast of NYC, namely the Upper East Side. I have finally gotten the courage to write to you after hearing the introduction to your 664 podcast and your reference to dancers, their need to perform and their success in your classes, Vincent. I myself am a former dancer and the discipline that dancing inbred in me served me well on my road to becoming a physician.
In early March, my husband, (not a physician) began listening to Vincent’s 2020 Virology lectures, and encouraged me to participate and brush up on my virology. That’s also when we discovered TWIV. At that time, any information that I could get about SARS CoV-2 was most valuable. Myself and my colleagues were glued to hospital briefings, Grand Rounds, local and Federal briefings and consulting with each other about how to handle our particular, outpatient situations. It was like going to Medical school all over again. March and April had me managing dozens of mild to moderate and severely ill patients not requiring hospitalization from the not so comfort of my apartment. I’ll spare you from the gory details of that particularly stressful period but suffice it to say, your podcasts were the voice of reason that I needed to get me and my patients through that awful time.
So what does that have to do with dancers, you ask? Well, as a result of your tutelage and especially Episode 640, the Michael Mina interview, I came to realize the utility in frequent, rapid testing, especially as NY was going into Phase 4 and the case levels were quite low. So I brushed off my Quidel Antigen test equipment, got the cartridges from the manufacturer and set up shop. Because I have a special relationship with the NY dance community, I was approached by a producer who wanted to collaborate with me to put together a “Bubble” for dancers, not unlike what the NBA has been doing in Disney World. Using NY State guidelines, Union guidelines, my rapid antigen test and ALL of the valuable knowledge that I’ve gained from TWIV, we have created several cohorts of dancers to rehearse and perform outdoors to a physically distanced, small audience and to be videotaped for future viewing.
My protocol involves a 14 day quarantine, which in NY includes going to the grocery store with precautions, outdoor activities, masks, hand washing and the like. I encouraged the dancers to remain within their own families during those 14 days and to avoid outdoor dining or any indoor group activities. On Day 5 before departure, the group was tested, either by the Quidel rapid Antigen test or via rapid PCR. They continued their more isolated quarantine until Day 0, the day of departure to their cohort residence, when they would come to my office, one by one, to be tested. Once they had two negative tests in a row (Day 5 and Day 0) they would board the bus, with the driver tested that very day, and go straight to their residence in Upstate NY. They could rehearse, usually masked, as dance is a contact sport, and live as a family. The bubble up there was not allowed to be pierced. All deliveries of any kind were contactless, there were no visitors who had not been tested and intermingling outside of the residency was strictly prohibited. If the bubble lasts for more than 10 days, as some of them do, interim testing, either by the rapid antigen test or the mail order saliva PCR test, were done to insure the integrity of the bubble. I wish that we could do more frequent, even daily testing, but the arts world does not have the funds that the NBA does, so we had to make do with just the science and commitment of the dancers to stay safe.
The last day of the bubble ends with a performance on the plaza at Lincoln Center, on a closed set, outdoors and is videotaped. I then test the dancers and crew again to make sure that everyone remains negative. So far, so good!
So now, in addition to trying to resuscitate my private medical practice, I have become a testing center for performers and have created protocols for several NY dance companies to begin to create and practice their craft safely. It’s been rigorous and rewarding all at once. Without the arts, what are we as a species? Even those of us confined to our homes watch some sort of TV production, at the very least, or listen to music, read books, paint and some even write Haikus!
I must give credit to TWIV, to which I am a devoted listener. During those awful days in March and April, when we were all looking for answers, I would walk to my office listening to your podcasts and get much needed clinical and basic science information. I believe I am a much better physician for having done so and I, my patients and the dance world, thank you all.
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
With Admiration and Gratitude,
Wendy Ziecheck, M.D.