Invisible Threat – COVID19
The world is facing sudden change, disruption, and an invisible threat. COVID19 is a type of coronavirus, a virus that has jumped from animals to humans. There are many types of coronavirus, including the flu. However, COVID19 is a novel, new virus. It is a virus that humans had never had exposure to before. Since we have never experienced it, there is no build-up of antibodies, treatments, or vaccines.
COVID19 is a type of SARS or Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome. The virus is spread through droplets, in the air, or even on surfaces. The incubation period for this virus can be as long as 14 days after exposure. Symptoms include cough, fever, and shortness of breath. In some cases, COVID19 can lead to pneumonia, severe respiratory problems, kidney failure, and death.
Statistics are alarming. We can expect that the virus will kill anywhere between 500,000 to 5 million Americans in the next year. There are notices that up to 80% of the population will become infected. While companies are working on a cure or a vaccine, with human trials and other safety precautions necessary for any new human medicines, it can be more than a year away.
Medical First Responders
For all those who get sick from this virus, or have any other health conditions that will require treatment, medical first responders are the front line for saving lives. Whether it is from coronavirus, a heart attack, or even breaking a leg, people come into contact with medical personnel for a variety of reasons. The deaths that will foreshadow the days ahead will not only be from contracting the virus but from a shortage of supplies, bed space, and even available personnel. Some deaths will be from fear, fear that by going to seek treatment for other ailments or even chronic ongoing health conditions will cause exposure to the disease.
If there are no doctors, nurses or even EMT's to bring patients in ambulances because they have all been exposed to or contract the virus due to inadequate supplies, the number of deaths for all Americans will skyrocket. Medical first responders have chosen their careers, generally speaking, because they want to help others. They understood from their time preparing for their jobs that they face health threats from their patients. They chose their jobs because they genuinely want to save lives.
The problem does not lie with the willingness of these consummate professionals to want to help. The problem is that they are not getting adequate supplies to them to protect themselves so they can treat patients who come to them for help. From the time that the World Health Organization announced that the spread of COVID19 had presented in China as a novel coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) took four weeks to even issue warnings and guidelines to U.S. health-workers and first responders. Now, more than three months into an emergency pandemic, these responders are left to beg for necessary supplies like gloves and masks, the public should be asking why.
Emergency Rooms & Safety
For everyone's safety, doctors are trying to keep people out of the emergency rooms. It is natural for people to have fear. During times of panic and isolation, if they feel sick, the first thing they want to do is go to the emergency room. Doing this could be the worst thing for everyone.
It is in the best interest of the patient, the hospital, and society if those who are mildly ill or have a low risk stay out of these areas. By exposing themselves to the emergency room environment, if they could have some other mild illness and not COVID19, the patient is now set up for exposure along with already having a compromised immune response due to being ill. If only showing mild symptoms that do not require emergency intervention, then as a patient with COVID19, they risk exposing health care workers and other patients to the disease.
Telehealth is an option that can work well without a trip to the ER. Currently, many emergency rooms are creating triage centers outside of their hospitals in tents to screen patients who could have exposure to the virus. Not everyone who gets the virus needs medical intervention. To go to the hospital just because of fear itself creates more of a chance to spread the disease as well as use up the much needed and short-handed supplies that health-care workers need to protect themselves.
Doctors' offices should also be considered an unsafe place until this novel virus has run its course. Unless it is a medical emergency, it is safer for everyone, patients, staff, and doctors that all appointments go through telehealth. Telehealth is a bit different than skype or just face time with your doctor, as it is a specialized service that provides encryption and protects your medical health information. Before going in to see your doctor, the best thing to do is to call. Ask the staff what is the safest option for you right now. Asking preserves the medical equipment that the office has on hand, as well as helps reduce exposure for everyone.
Nurses on the Frontline
Our nurses are on the frontline of the war against this invisible threat against our lives. Before you see the doctor before you enter the emergency room before you can gain any type of medical care, the first on the job are the nurses. They encounter you first at your doctor visits to take your temperature, your blood pressure, to discuss your medications. Nurses are the triage teams for emergency rooms. Nurses are always the first encounter and the long-term caregivers of patients.
The crisis is being made more severe by the shortage of supplies. Nurses are risking their lives and the lives of their family members to continue to help patients. Without nurses, everyone who gets seriously ill with this virus faces severe complications and possible death. Our nurses will be the most significant part of the team of heroes that will save lives. We should be doing everything we can to assist them, protect them, and encourage them in any way possible.
EMT'S Always There for You
Emergency Medical Technicians or EMT's are there for patients in emergencies. When someone is injured, has a heart attack, or needs immediate help, we call an ambulance. COVID19 is known to cause severe and sudden breathing issues. Teams of EMT's or ambulance workers will be included in the frontline defense as they treat patients and get them to hospitals for emergency care.
Across the country, EMT's are already testing positive for the virus. Regardless of how they have contracted it, through patient contact or from members in the community, they risk exposing other patients, their families, and they are also facing severe illness. Without their services, citizens have no way to call for emergency medical help.
Medical Workers & Their Families
All medical workers are at risk. Their families are also at risk. Without them continuing to work to save lives, the death toll will be far higher, and then the spread across the country will be grave. These medical workers are the front line, the first responders for every American citizen, for every world citizen to stop this virus. They should be commended as much as any soldier or officer that faces a hail of bullets to rush in to save lives, that is what they are doing. Only these 'bullets' are invisible.
Many of these workers have family members who are at high risk, with health complications. Many have elderly parents or families with compromised immune systems. Each day they step up to battle the disease for patients; they risk their lives, but the lives of these family members. If something happens to them, there is not a replacement for them at home. There is no one to save their elderly parents. Yet they cannot even get the necessary supplies needed to protect themselves, like masks and gloves. Everyone in America, every citizen, should be alarmed, should be calling their representatives, and insisting that this be corrected at once.
Appreciation, Gratitude, Admiration
What can you do? Take care of yourself. Self-quarantine, use social isolation to help slow the spread of the disease. Stay positive. Keep active by taking walks, exercising, or other physical activities. Go outdoors when possible; sunshine and vitamin D can do wonders for your mood. Stay in contact with your family and friends on social media, play games online, or other group activities so that you don't feel isolated. Use your time wisely for self-reflection, reading, crafting, or other things that you've been putting off around the house. Many companies are offering free services during this time, including courses, perhaps now is an excellent time to take a class.
You can help medical personnel by showing your appreciation. Find local ways that you can contribute. There has been a call for seamstresses to sew masks, if you are able, do so. Contribute to food pantries in your community. Call your hospitals and doctors offices to ask how you can help them. If you do need their assistance, show your gratitude. Say, thank you. The words may seem so simple, so small, but to the ears of our heroes on the frontline, they can mean everything.