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Athens ER Doctor: COVID Pandemic Is ‘Big Trouble’

Neal Priest.

Neal Priest, the director of emergency medicine at St. Mary’s Hospital, raises the alarm about the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic in a new locally produced podcast.

“We’re in a much worse situation than we were before, way worse,” Priest says on The Finch Podcast. “And what I’m worried about is, we have not even seen the peak of this. We’re in the dark. We’re shooting in the dark right now. And we’re in big trouble.”

Priest discusses how both local hospitals went on total diversion last week, and between COVID-19 and a return to normal activities, “the hospitals are completely full.”

He also talks about why wearing a mask helps slow the spread of the virus, anti-science bias, the development of a vaccine, the challenges of treating COVID patients, mental health, how vegetarianism can prevent pandemics and the need for a shutdown nationally, or at least in states with high numbers of cases.

Two dual-enrollment students at UGA started The Finch Podcast last April out of boredom and because they were “deeply disturbed by the counter-narratives being launched against public health experts,” according to Alex Benoit, who co-hosts the show with Will Fang.

They had previously interviewed Priest, but Benoit said his tone was much more dire the second time. They’ve also interviewed more than a dozen UGA professors about the pandemic.

In addition, the pair has also produced podcasts focusing on local business and political leaders like restaurateur Peter Dale and former state Reps. Deborah Gonzalez and Jonathan Wallace. They’re also planning a series on global warming.