By Debbie Moore-Black, RN
They scream and holler and march. Open up the U.S. This is a hoax.
On the contrary, coronavirus is deadly. Invisible, the virus makes its trek across the world.
Nurses and doctors and respiratory therapists are being named heroes. Signs and banners and free meals and cookies and doughnuts and loads of adoration come our way.
But we don’t want to be named a hero. We are doing our job, our profession, our passion. What the health care professionals want are safety and protection, experienced staff and PPEs like N95 masks, gloves and gowns, and face shields. And respect for this virus.
When you go out and march and protest without a mask, without social distancing, you are compromising fellow citizens, nurses and doctors, and respiratory therapists. You are endangering us and your family and friends.
This virus doesn’t care what you think. It searches for the next host to hook on to. Are you in your 30s or 40s or 60s? The virus doesn’t care.
Are you washing your hands with soap and water, sanitizer, keeping your distance? Do you walk freely through essential stores without a care, without a bother? To you, it doesn’t matter. Because you haven’t been affected yet. Not yet.
We say our prayers going in. The hospitals test us before we clock in. They take our temperature and ask us questions. We are allowed to stay and work if we are afebrile, lack a dry cough, no loss of smell or taste, no shortness of breath, no congestion. And then we are allowed entrance to work in that ER or that ICU or any unit in that hospital. ICUs and ERs are now deemed as hell.
There are no short breaks. It is 12 hours of relentless pain. Masks and shields and gowns and gloves and the very sickest COVID-19 enter our ICUs. Pouring blood into these patients and oxygenating with emergent intubation, and vasopressins and lungs crashing and kidneys dying despite dialysis, despite our last-ditch efforts of proning a patient, despite telling family members they can’t see their loved ones last breath on earth.
Despite hospitals allowing us one (!) N95 mask per 12-hour shift. Despite us knowing that this special mask should be used only once and then disposed of. Despite hospital units and surgeries closing down, despite nurses being furloughed or physicians being fired for speaking out against the lack of PPEs, despite administrators receiving $250,000 bonus checks in this turmoil.
Frontline nurses and doctors have died from this virus helping you to survive. This coronavirus attacks our lungs, our hearts, our kidneys, and our brains. It attaches and attacks until the patient goes into multi-system organ failure and then death.
To date, the world has seen 270,000 deaths from coronavirus while the U.S. — the epicenter of the panemic — has seen 74,000. This number continues to grow. So please, help yourself to protesting, to screaming and shouting. You certainly don’t scare or intimidate this virus.
Wear your masks. Keep your distance.
But if you keep your guard down, you may become the next fatal number.