My name is Dr. Parul Goyal and I have been a doctor in internal medicine, treating patients and serving my community in Tennessee for over 11 years. Never have I seen a greater threat to the wellbeing of my patients as Covid-19 and the misinformation that is contributing to its spread.

I decided to become a doctor because of my innate love for science – what brought me to the medical profession was the idea of being a part of a profession that focused on helping others regardless of caste, creed, religion or circumstance.

The oath I took was to save lives.

When we first started seeing COVID-19 cases in Tennessee, I was working as part of a team that was doing early testing at the Vanderbilt COVID clinic. At that time, many young people were returning from spring break and crowded beaches and many of them were testing positive. They believed that they would be OK, and many of them were, but unless they quarantined for 14 days, the virus was spreading even though they were asymptomatic.

Then, COVID-19 touched one of my patients when her husband contracted the virus. For two weeks he was in the ICU, without his wife or family being able to visit him. Imagine what that is like. Then, he died and could not even have a proper funeral.

Downplaying the threat of the coronavirus early on, allowed things to get out of hand and put lives at risk – like my patient’s husband — when we should have been preparing like the CDC and health experts were asking us to do.

This virus is all around us – it has not gone away. If the general public is not practicing good hygiene like frequent hand washing, wearing masks, and physical distancing, we will absolutely see an uptick in positive cases.

My message to everyone is this:
– If you must go out, stay physically separated from others by at least 6 feet
– Wash your hands when you get home, and
– Always wear your mask.
There are many ways to support local businesses without going inside. My family regularly uses curbside pickup to avoid going inside closed spaces. This helps keeps us safe, and we contribute to the local economy at the same time.

My message to state and federal political leaders
– We need expanded rapid contact tracing and isolation of cases that breaks chains of transmission when they are discovered. People need to know if they have come in contact with someone who has Covid 19 so that they can isolate and not infect their families, coworkers or others in the public.
– We also need more preparation for the months ahead. Lets start preparing for it now by making plans for remote school classes, and
Expanding Tennessee’s existing absentee voting so that voters don’t have to choose between their right vote or their health or health of a loved one. In fact temporarily expanding our state’s system of absentee voting would give Tennessee voters the option to physical distance while voting, reduce long lines at polling places, and make it safer for those who choose to vote in person. That’s why nearly every other state has already done it.

These things and many others are common sense things we should be doing that are good for saving lives, and good for our economy, to help with this current COVID 19 crisis.