A Monterey County doctor spent two months working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City. He was deployed as part of the military’s response to the coronavirus.
Dr. Edward Ramirez wears many hats. He’s an infertility specialist and gynecologist with a private practice and works at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital. He’s also a Colonel in the Army Reserve Medical Corps.
In early April, just back from a tour in the Middle East, Dr. Ramirez got a call to travel to the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States. He arrived in New York right after the state’s peak. Ramirez witnessed the virus at its worst.
His assignment -- run a testing clinic for employees at Lincoln Hospital in South Bronx.
“It was basically the center for the pandemic in New York City and also the largest hit hospital in the United States,” Ramirez said.
His wife was scared, and he was too, especially because he’s in a high risk group. In fact, Ramirez celebrated his 63rd birthday while in New York.
“My biggest worry was that I was going to contract this disease and never see my wife again,” he recalled.
So, he was very careful. He washed his hands a lot and wore what he called “quadruple” layers of PPE.
Dr. Ramirez saw about 55 COVID positive patients a day at the testing clinic. He said most had
minor symptoms, fever, cough, and sore throat for 3 to 5 days, and then recovered. But, a few tested positive for over a month and didn’t have any symptoms.
“I think the prevalence of the virus is a lot greater than what we’ve seen and we’re just seeing that knowledge come out with the amount of testing that we’re doing. And the majority of people have no symptoms, they never know that they’re even infected,” Dr. Ramirez said.
He added that Monterey County is completely different from New York, with wide open spaces. His message -- find a balance, be cautious but don’t panic.