Right now, the most striking feature of the hospital might be the difference between the world outside and the world within. Outside, New York—America’s largest and densest city—is a ghost town. Manhattan’s streets are deserted. Its car horns are silent. Its halal carts have vanished.
Inside, the hospital pulses with an energy I’ve never experienced before. The destruction wrought by the novel coronavirus is on full display, but so is the singular purpose with which clinicians of all ranks and backgrounds are responding. I have never seen new protocols adopted so quickly. Medical students are graduating early to help in the fight. Pathology residents are volunteering on the medical floors. There is a complete subjugation of ego; senior physicians are performing tasks that they haven’t done since medical school. Medicine—normally governed by rigid hierarchies and siloed fiefdoms—is free.