Google is doing some interesting things with COVID data overlays for Google Maps. The company states that it introduced the COVID layer in Maps “so you can make more informed decisions about where to go and what to do.” The overlay shows the seven-day average of new COVID cases per 100,000 people, with labels that show whether cases are trending up or down.
The data was accurate for my area, which is a hotbed of COVID transmission. Based on the activity of people in general, I doubt many people are consulting Google Maps to decide where they should be going since local traffic patterns indicate that everyone is everywhere.
Part of the issue stems from our lack of a statewide policy, leaving it up to individual counties to decide whether they will have restrictions or not. I live in a more restrictive county and people are flocking to the neighboring jurisdictions for dining and social activities despite the fact that numbers are going up in those areas. We hear all about the fun they’ve been having at wineries, pumpkin patches, and haunted houses when they present to the urgent care for COVID testing.
Since we have six providers out with COVID, we’re not very amused. Even though I’m not in the office for a while, I still get the text messages begging for additional provider coverage. We’re already seeing patients who are positive for both influenza A and influenza B, and vaccination season has barely started. It’s going to be a long winter, I’m guessing.
Our practice’s leadership has been quiet at providing details on how many employees have been infected with COVID and whether the exposures have been work related. I see some fairly cavalier processes with masking at times and occasionally people are gathering in break rooms despite recommendations to the contrary. I’m trying not to judge – they might be part of our population that already has had COVID and maybe they’re sharing war stories over a sandwich, but it’s still eerie when you walk up on people unmasked and closer together than the recommended six feet.
As a former administrative type, I appreciate the organization’s reasoning for being mum, but as a patient care organization, I think it’s important to address the infection control issue head-on especially since we’re still having “extended use” of our N95 masks that borders on the absurd. Fortunately, I have some angels out there who have been sourcing masks for me, so between those and the work-issued ones, I am able to swap them out frequently. I still find it hard to believe that we’re in this position at this point in the evolution of the pandemic.
Further on the topic of “things that are surprising, but not really,” I continue to see a significant number of individuals out there in the working world who don’t seem to understand the concept of “the internet is forever and it’s certainly not private.” Employers, potential employers, customers, and prospects may be looking at our activity on social media. Personal accounts can be subject to scrutiny as well as professional ones, which is why it seems surprising when people post things that raise an eyebrow or even cause a full-scale cringe.
A friend was looking at the LinkedIn profile of someone who is actively seeking a new job and found a post that didn’t exactly scream “please hire me, I’m a serious professional.” I’m not even going to quote it because I can hear my dear sweet grandmother in my head saying, “Jayney-girl, that’s vulgar.”
It got me thinking about posts that I’ve seen lately on social media that have been more than a little out of line, considering that their authors are the leaders of companies or other public-facing figures. Granted, those of us that live in the US are in the middle of what might be the most polarized presidential election in modern history, but it seems that a good chunk of the population has completely lost its sense of decorum. Whether one agrees with the idea of a social media post or not, an inflammatory tone doesn’t reflect well on one’s company or one’s leadership ability.
It has gone beyond what we used to think as “questionable” posts involving scantily-clad selfies, strip clubs, large quantities of alcohol, or venturing into tasteless subject matter. I saw one executive who re-posted political material that openly mocked the LQBTQ+ community. I’m sure their community health center and reproductive health practice clients aren’t going to be amused by it. Part of me wanted to reach out and ask if he really did post it or if he had been hacked, but seeing some of the posts that followed provided an unfortunate answer to my question.
I’ve seen what I would consider to be bad behavior much more often from my friends at startups, which may not have the same corporate social media policies as established or publicly traded companies. I’ve seen some posts that are completely absent of common human decency , but if they don’t even meet that level, they’re definitely not going to meet standards of being respectful. I was following a company to write a piece on a company, but but have canned it because I cannot in good conscience provide visibility for an organization whose leadership is openly hateful.
In the final days that we have leading up to our presidential election, I am encouraging people to remember how we used to interact with each other, with reasoned, thoughtful conversation rather than forwarded clips and disrespectful hashtags. Once upon a time we knew how to work together towards common goals rather than bashing each other. We still have tremendous problems to solve, particularly in the healthcare arena where all of us play a role. Chronic diseases haven’t gone away, nor have preventable harms in healthcare facilities. Maternal / infant mortality in the US is still shameful, and we’re nowhere near funding public health in the way we need to fund it even after COVID exposed our shortcomings. We’re still wasting healthcare dollars because of siloed data and lack of interoperability.
We still have a rough month ahead of us, but let’s all consider taking a vow of civility. Let’s think before we speak or write and read things twice before clicking “send” or “post.” I think we’ll all be the better for it.
Email Dr. Jayne.