What to discuss with your loved ones before getting together this holiday season

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

For advice on how to approach COVID-19 risk mitigation this holiday season, check out this post by an economics professor Emily Oster, and these articles published in Atlantic and Vox, which will be helpful in putting these questions into context, and possibly help answer these questions.

For up-to-date data on local COVID-19 cases, check out this New York Times page.

  • Should people socially isolate prior to the family gathering? If yes, for how many days? Should this apply to kids that are going to in-person school?
  • Should people get tested prior to traveling? If so, who should get tested? When…

In response to the rising Covid-19 death toll and case counts in the U.S., calls for a national lockdown have been escalating. In an open letter to America’s decision-makers, more than 150 medical professionals urge them to “shut it down now, and start over.” In the letter, they argue that people should “stay home, going out only to get food and medicine or to exercise and get fresh air.”

I empathize with the urgency in their plea for people to stay home. I felt helpless watching patient after patient die from Covid-19 while working in a New York hospital in…

We are learning the consequences of medical care deferred and forgone due to COVID-19. The result has been devastating for both Americans and our health care system.

“I’m sorry doctor, I didn’t want to come in because of the coronavirus.”

Last week in my Palo Alto urgent care clinic, an elderly woman with diabetes — let’s call her Elaine — apologized as soon as I walked into the exam room.

She’d finally come in, she said, because she just couldn’t get her blood sugar down.

Earlier this year, news channels flashed constant footage of hospitals packed with breathless patients and exhausted health care workers. …

And some ideas on how to save the country with masking


To anyone who has been following the COVID-19 trend in this country, it should be obvious that we are entering into the worst moment of the pandemic thus far.

After peaking around 36,000 in mid April — most of the attributable to the outbreak in the New York metro area — the daily COVID-19 case number has soared through 30,000 this past week after reaching the nadir of below 20,000 earlier this month. At this rate, I have zero doubt in my mind that we will soon see 50,000+ new confirmed cases per day.

Before reading further, let that number…

Reopening without preparation will lead to another predictable health and economic disaster


These days everyone seems to be asking the same question: “when can we reopen the economy?” I empathize with those wanting to reopen the economy, but this is the wrong question to ask. When we reopen the economy is not as important as whether we are ready to reopen it, how we can reopen it safely, and what would happen if we are unprepared to contain the resurgence of new infections that would surely follow.

In this article, I argue:

  1. Lack of capabilities to test widely, contact trace, and enforce quarantine make us woefully unprepared to contain new outbreaks.
  2. Premature…

Reflections of a volunteer doctor at a New York City hospital

The first time I walk into the ER, I stop for a second to collet myself. The room is jam-packed with patients whose faces are covered with masks blowing air into their lungs. They lie stiff and uncomfortable on stretchers, two to a bay that is designed to fit only one.

My initial thought: “What did I get myself into?”

The first patient that I see is an elderly woman lying almost invisibly in the corner of a room. I ask about her breathing and she mouthes “it’s okay.” I can barely hear her over the oxygen mask she is…

Why we need to reach out to seniors today

The novel coronavirus continues to rage through America, with the total cases standing at more than 500,000 and the death toll at over 20,000. It is without question that our seniors — those 65 years of age or older — will bear the brunt of the health consequences of COVID-19 and the projected American death toll of up to 240,000 this year.

It is now well known that seniors have a much higher chance of dying from the coronavirus than young people. Across the world, one in seven seniors infected with the virus dies from it. In New York City…

Posted on Apr 6, 2020 in Palo Alto Medical Foundation

My fellow millennials:

Like many of you, I like a good Sunday brunch and avocado toast, I can’t live without Netflix and Amazon Prime, and I scroll through Yelp and Eater much too often in search of that perfect new restaurant. Like many of you, I am a millennial. And yes, my last name is really Bae.

I’m also a doctor and I’ve witnessed multiple epidemics. In 2006, I was in Southern Africa when HIV/AIDS was ravaging the continent; in 2014, I was in Liberia during the Ebola epidemic.


TL;DR: The confirmed case number is not helpful in understanding today’s COVID-19 pandemic. The death toll is a more informative measure, but still lags the actual infection number by 3 weeks. Given that mitigation efforts in the U.S. started only in the last 1–2 weeks, we will continue to see an exponential growth of the death toll in the next couple of weeks. The number of American deaths will likely exceed 20,000 by Easter Sunday. However, this doesn’t mean social distancing and shelter-in-place have not been effective; it simply means that their impacts take time (~3 weeks) before being reflected…

COVID-19 tests often take 7 days or longer to come back

I am an urgent care physician at Palo Alto Medical Foundation in Palo Alto, CA, where I help run our outdoor drive-thru clinic for patients experiencing respiratory symptoms.

Last week I wrote an article in which I argued that today’s confirmed COVID-19 cases number substantially underestimates the actual number of COVID-19 infections in the U.S. for two reasons: (1) a delay between when an infection happens and when it is reported (12 days) and (2) the prevalence of undocumented, unconfirmed cases.

When I wrote the article, a typical turnaround time for COVID-19 testing through Quest Diagnostics in Northern California was…

Jason Bae, MD MBA

Internist | Medical Director at Prealize Health | Soros Fellow | Yale MD | Harvard MBA | Views are my own

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