ER doctor worried holiday gatherings will cause another COVID-19 spike in RI

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WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Dr. Laura Forman, the chief of emergency medicine at Kent Hospital and the medical director of the Cranston field hospital, says she is nervous about the upcoming holiday week — especially after the increase in coronavirus positivity rates after Thanksgiving.

“What happens over the next few weeks is really going to depend on how people behave over Christmas and the New Year,” she said.

According to Dr. Forman, the COVID-19 vaccine distribution getting underway was a critical step forward, but hospital workers are exhausted and the pandemic is still far from over.

“I got the vaccine on Thursday, it was a really hopeful moment,” she recealled. “I sent a picture to my family and to my friends and a lot of us cried.”

“It’s the first sign of hope in this,” Dr. Forman added. “But that having been said, I don’t think I will behave any differently because people still need to get the vaccine.”

Dr. Forman said there has been a slight decrease in patients this week, but the hospital remains overcrowded.

While she believes the state’s three-week pause helped to cut back on crowds, she said many people still aren’t following the warnings.

“I think the hardest thing, for me, is seeing that there are so many people in the community that still don’t get it, who don’t understand how dangerous it is, their part in this, that what they do makes a difference,” she explained. “This is where I will spend Christmas — at the field hospital — and that’s OK, but it’s not OK for the patients that are here and their families.”

And Dr. Forman is also concerned about what will happen now that the pause has been lifted and the state is starting to open back up.

“My worry is I’m already hearing about family gatherings on Christmas, underground parties on New Year’s,” she said. “I know it’s been a long time that we have been doing this — but how many people do we want to have die because we wanted to have a good time?”

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