The health workers ask us
As the pandemic rages across the United States, breaking records for deaths and cases almost daily, some nurses and doctors hit a breaking point.
Some have been battling waves in their areas for months. Others have been overwhelmed more recently. Many are physically and emotionally drained and suffer from overwhelming feelings of inadequacy and fear. Experts say healthcare workers are increasingly prone to post-traumatic stress. Some close their practices or quit their jobs because of stress on themselves, their families, their patients and their colleagues.
Particularly troubling, some health care workers say, is the carefree attitude many Americans are showing towards the virus.
“There is such a division between the hospital and the surrounding communities,” wrote one doctor in an exchange that was later posted on Twitter. “I don’t drive home to frills and clinking pots and pans … I drive home stunned through a university town with plumbing from the doors to local bars.”
“We risk our lives every day to protect you. So do something for us. Wear. A. Mask “, reads a caption in the video.
I reached out to Ashley Bartholomew, a nurse who recently stepped down from her job in a Covid ward at an El Paso hospital but stayed two weeks in desperate need. She said it was difficult to identify a single break, but told me about an exchange with a patient who was improving.
She went into his room in full PPE when he saw the national news of El Paso’s need for more mobile morgues.
“He said the news makes it bigger business than it really is,” she recalled. She tried to stay professional but couldn’t hold back her tears. “I said, ‘You know, I’m going to be brutally honest. This is my last shift and I have never seen so much death and illness in the past two weeks than I have spent my entire 10 years in healthcare. ‘“
The patient, puzzled, said he thought everyone on the ward was just as fine as he was. Of the 25 rooms she had been in that day, he was the only patient who could talk. Everyone else was too sick.
“This is a pandemic within a pandemic,” she said. “A pandemic of misinformation along with the Covid-19 pandemic. And in healthcare, we can’t fight both at the same time. “
Can New York Avoid a Complete Shutdown?
Even as states across the country rolled out new virus restrictions, New York – once the epicenter of the virus – took a much more measured approach.
Instead of a complete shutdown, the officials rely on a variety of less disruptive, targeted measures, which are often based on voluntary compliance. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s strategy has mainly been to focus on what he calls “microclusters” and close schools and non-essential businesses in more affected neighborhoods and regions. In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio closed in-person classes in the city’s schools after the 7-day positivity rate increased over 3 percent from today.
While New York has a much lower infection rate than many states, the virus is clearly on the upswing. Thousands of new cases crop up every day, hospital stays have more than quintupled since September and deaths are rising.
Some officials fear the state may not be able to effectively control the virus without a fuller shutdown, especially if pandemic fatigue doesn’t build until the holidays start. Many are extremely concerned about repeating the mistakes of spring when the governor was criticized for not shutting down quickly enough. The majority of the state’s more than 33,600 deaths occurred between March and May.
Mayor de Blasio said today it was “only a matter of time” before the city reached the state’s threshold for entry into the “orange zone”: a 7-day average for test positives above 3 percent for 10 days. Entering this zone, which will require gym and indoor dining closures, was “very likely in the next week or two,” he said.
Africa has seen a worrying surge in confirmed coronavirus cases and has now passed the two million mark, even though tests remain low. Key factors seem to be widespread events, particularly in universities in South Africa; the upcoming December holiday season; and complacency.
Japan is on “high alert”, warned his prime minister, as this is a third wave of cases affecting more than just young people, a change that could put further strain on hospitals.
A number of restrictions were introduced in the USA in the MarylandAll bars, restaurants and nightclubs must be closed by 10 p.m. PennsylvaniaAuthorities said anyone traveling to the state must be tested before arriving. Denver is moving to all-remote teaching, and so it is Kentucky. Los Angeles County announced a curfew for companies, and Illinois also imposed new restrictions.
Here is a summary of the restrictions in all 50 states.
What else are we pursuing
What you are doing
For over 40 years, a group of friends met before Christmas to socialize and play the gift exchange game. Anonymous, brightly wrapped gifts are chosen at random and sometimes stolen and finally opened together to marvel and mostly laugh. This year there are plans to post pictures and descriptions of the gifts and play the game virtually, then send them to recipients and then virtually open them later. It remains to be seen whether it will be as fun, but at least we will “meet” twice during the holidays.
– Paul Niemczura, Malvern, Pa.
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