The death of Arrows frontman Alan Merrill paints a perfect picture of why social distancing is so important in the coronavirus pandemic. A recollection of Merrill’s final days has been shared by his widow Joanna, outlining an overburdened health care system and America’s lack of preparedness to deal with a global pandemic.

As of this posting, over 39,000 people worldwide have died from coronavirus and the number is going up between 3,000-4,000 each day. In the United States, there have been nearly 165,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus (the real number could be higher due to lack of testing) and over 3,100 deaths, bringing the official mortality rate to two percent.

According to Alan Merrill’s wife, he was unable to seek treatment while his symptoms were mild, due to overcrowding in hospitals. Once he was finally admitted with severe symptoms, he was forced to wait over 14 hours for a coronavirus test and for someone to bring Merrill to intensive care:

Initially I didn't think I could bear to burden everyone on FB with the announcement of my husband's death. But since it is now out there, I'd like to say something about the awful truth about the treatment of the virus in a respected hospital, in NYC, in this COUNTRY.
About 2 weeks ago, Alan felt like he was getting a cold and then the flu. I was immediately suspicious, and of course Alan being Alan, he told me I was getting hysterical for no reason. I nonetheless researched about what to do if you get the Cornavirus. Every article I read said that there is no help available unless you have severe symptoms -can't breathe or you chest really hurts. Otherwise the hospital will not admit you or test you for Covid-19. And this was absolutely true.
There was nothing I could do for Alan except watch him get worse. When he finally couldn't breathe, was so cold he needed piles of blankets on top of him, and couldn't sleep, I called an ambulance. The EMTs told me I wasn't allowed to go with him into the ER, so there was no point in accompanying him. I didn't know what was going on until an ER doctor called me an hour later. She said as far as she could tell (good thing she's a doctor) he had the virus but he needed to be tested before he could be admitted to ICU. But that would take at least 10 hours.
Ten hours later I didn't hear back, so I called Mt. Sinai and was told he did test positive and would be moved to ICU so he could get better attention from the pulmonologists there. At 10:30 a doctor called me and told me they were actually NOT moving him since his body was shutting down because his lungs were too destroyed to work. I asked if he had to die alone, and the doctor said I could come say goodbye. When I got to the hospital I had to argue with 3 different security guards to let me go to the ER. I stood my ground and they went back to fetch a nurse who let me in. This was around 11pm.
The doctor who called me came to meet me and apologized and said that his numbers were now better and he was going to be transferred to the ICU where he could get the care he needed. He was on a respirator and was sedated, so he was not in pain, or at least aware of the pain.
My husband should have been moved to the place where the experts who who were there on the front lines could help him. Every 15 minutes I would ask when he was going to be transferred and they would say in the next few minutes, but that never happened. At around 2:30 am, they were finally ready to transfer him upstairs, and I left, exhausted, not willing to battle another group of security guards in ICU.
I walked 3 blocks towards home and the doctor called me to say he was gone, his heart and lungs just stopped beating from all the pressure they were under.
So the net net is he was only allowed in the hospital until he was most certainly dying, and then he languished in ER for 14 hours while they tested him for corona, which he obviously had, and struggled to find someone to take him upstairs to ICU. Maybe if he was there, he would have had a fighting chance at least for those 15 hours, but of course we will never know. And now I have to grieve alone in quarantine.
I also want to relate that I asked the doctor if I should be tested since I was around Alan for two weeks. He said I came in looking like I did, the hospital would let me in. However, if I couldn't breathe, I should come in and then they would admit me and test me. So essentially you have to be near dead to get help. I know there is no cure, but surely there is something they can do to alleviate the risk your lungs being destroyed, like sending oxygen to people's homes?
Please know that I write this not for sympathy, but to let you know the reality of this disease and our country's lack of preparation for it.
I urge you to REALLY take this seriously, and when the time comes, show your anger to the officials who knew this was coming and did nothing to prepare.
Alan I can't even begin to imagine the ways in which I will miss you. I am sure that you are so happy that you are getting the credit for writing one of the world's most beloved anthems. Your family and the world is sadder without you. [via Katherine Turman]

Social distancing is imperative to limit the spread of coronavirus and to reduce the already gigantic burden on hospitals and health care workers worldwide. Please stay home as much as possible, because even if you’re asymptomatic or test negative for coronavirus, you can still be a carrier of the disease.

For more details on best preventative practices for coronavirus, visit the World Health Organization’s website.

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