Local doctor Richard Neel encourages our community to take action and why: “Do it now and save lives.”

Richard Neel, a local and well-respected doctor, is trying to do his part to inform locals and asking our community to take the COVID seriously.
“I say unequivocally it is time to close schools. It is time to close indoor dining. Anyone who can work from home should work from home. People should not congregate or travel. Nonessential stores should close. Do it now and save lives. It is better to be proactive than reactive. That means no school, no sports, no tournaments, concerts, parties or vacations. Being proactive saves many more lives than being reactive. Slowing the spread of the virus will lessen the inevitable major strain on the medical system,” Dr. Neel said.
“There are not enough ventilators and ICU beds in any country to handle the potential number of severe respiratory cases this virus is capable of producing in a short time,” Dr. Neel adds. “Due to the lag time before symptoms start, there are a lot of people spreading the virus right now who don’t know it. The number of people infected will double in less than a week for every week from here on unless everyone possible stays home,” said Neel.
“I do not know the number of ventilators in San Antonio……. Unfortunately, I am certain there are not enough to handle the strain this virus is capable of causing,” Dr. Neel said. “Italy is an example where medical personnel are being forced to make heart wrenching life and death decisions on how to use limited resources.”
The San Antonio Express reports that there are 7,000 hospital beds in the SA area, and 1,000 ICU beds. Our local rural hospital, Medina Regional, has 25 beds, and does not have an ICU. When a patient needs a ventilator, they transfer patients to SA. Since Medina Regional Hospital does not have an ICU, patients requiring mechanical ventilation are stabilized and transported to higher levels of care, explains hospital representative.
Towns like Devine, Natalia, and Lytle are at the greatest risk in our county.
“Hopefully, many of the small towns will never be affected, but even small towns have more interactions with outsiders than they realize,” Dr. Neel adds.
“Towns along major highways (with gas stations and restaurants and even grocery stores that travelers stop at) are definitely at increased risk. I’m just hoping if everyone will just endure the pain of shutting down for a couple of weeks then we can get back to some normalcy faster.
Neel served as one of the subject-matter experts in the United States Pentagon for military defense of chemical and biological weapons from 1998-2003. Dr. Neel also has a Master’s Degree in Public Health from Harvard. Many locals will recognize him from the Little Alsace Urgent Care Clinic in Castroville.

Zoom in or click to see more from Chaparral Ford!