The news that Gov. Greg Abbott (R) of Texas has lifted ALL precautions against COVID-19, dropped the state’s mask mandate, and opened EVERYTHING, EVERYWHERE has me concerned. Depression, anxiety, ulcers and night terrors have coalesced into “concern.” 

I like Texas. A lot. I have family in Texas and have visited Dallas, San Antonio and Austin more than a few  times. Texas is a great state full of fantastic people. But because we’re done with COVID-19 doesn’t  mean COVID-19 is done with us.

Lots of people are vaccinated. Because I’m vaccinated, I’ve started to  see people again (who are also vaccinated) but we wear masks like they’re part of our faces.

Still, America has lost over 500,000 people, who will eternally be missed and who will never be replaced. The precedent set in Texas means other states are following suit. The carnage is not complete, yet we’re behaving like this  war is over, because we’re over it. 

Five Hundred Thousand people = 

• 200 Sept. 11 attacks 

• 272 Hurricane Katrinas 

• 8.5 Vietnam wars 

• 500,000 people missing from the world: grandparents, parents, brothers, sisters,  children, friends and loved ones, who will never be replaced and always mourned. 

I have had patients who died three days after their spouse and son died. I have had friends who died  within days of each other. I have seen the devastation that this virus has caused first-hand and watched  friends and family continue to conduct their lives and business as if the virus can’t touch them.

The mere idea that because numbers are (thankfully) down, everything is OK and can go back to normal is beyond comprehension and logic. 

The impact on your SNF, no matter what state you’re in, will be dramatic. When your state drops its  restrictions, expect to see more cases in your facility. Expect that hospitals will be overwhelmed again  and transfer directly from ED to SNF for those who don’t need vents. Expect your caseloads to climb, but  not in a good way, because your unvaccinated staff will be out with infection.

State lines are not  barriers; The impact will be felt beyond Texas, and as others replicate Gov. Abbott’s decision, the impact  will be felt on a wider scale. The reason that the virus is mutating is that we’re letting it. The more cases, the more widespread, the more chance for mutation. 

I sincerely hope Texas does not suffer for this poor decision, and that opening everything to 100%  capacity doesn’t cause needless suffering and loss of life. I sincerely hope Gov. Abbott has made an  amazingly prescient decision because he knows, against all logic and warnings by health officials, that Texas is out of the woods.

I sincerely hope that his panicky and rash decision does not portend a deadly  spike in cases and that other states who take up this banner don’t find themselves in a perilous situation and their cases don’t rise. I also sincerely hope Gov. Abbott changes his mind. 

Those who sarcastically said, “I can’t wait until 2020 is over” three months ago were in on the joke. We  all know pandemics don’t care what year it is, and science and common sense will help us out of the mire. Misreading the joke as fact has gotten us to this point.

It’s time to let science continue to lead us through this fog, and we will find our way out. Assuming “COVID-fatigue” as the guiding principle will lead to more loss and devastation. Patience, persistence and common sense are the answers.

Jean Wendland Porter, PT, CCI, WCC, CKTP, CDP, TWD is the regional director of therapy operations at Diversified Health Partners in Ohio.