As the novel coronavirus pandemic first reached California, a young man with fevers and difficulty breathing came to the hospital where I practice. He had been leading a seemingly healthy life. Within 24 hours, as he went into respiratory failure, I had to place him in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator. The rapidity of his progression was shocking, but this fast, clinical decline unfortunately proved to be a more routine occurrence in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 infections. A striking commonality emerged for many of the sickest patients: They had undiagnosed, and thus untreated, chronic medical conditions.
Their severe conditions made one fact painfully clear: Preventive care in the best of times can reduce health risks in the worst of times. This might seem like the kind of lesson only a pandemic can teach, but seasonal influenza also preys annually on those with undiagnosed conditions. It is vitally