BY SABRINA GUO
With over 300,000 infections and nearly 15,000 deaths, COVID-19 has halted daily life as we know it. On March 22, Governor Andrew Cuomo officially ordered all nonessential businesses to close in the state of New York.
The policies recently enacted by the government have closed schools and even brought Wall Street to a standstill. “The City That Never Sleeps” appears to be tranquilized into a slumber. Millions are expected to work from home and countless others have been laid off.
While New York City pauses, however, there is no time off for the thousands of health care workers working tirelessly against the Coronavirus clock. These doctors, nurses, EMTs, PAs, respiratory therapists, and medical technicians are all putting their lives on the line, with shamelessly low amounts of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) due to shortages.
It is imperative that we support these heroes and protect them adequately against the contagion.
To truly appreciate New York City’s health care workers, we must understand the extraordinary hard work and the immense amount of stress and hardship they face.
As of March 22, there have been 15,168 confirmed cases in the city alone. Juan Arredondo of The New York Times reported that our city has around 5 percent of the global Covid-19 cases.
Officials are doing everything they can to prepare for the storm yet-to-come, from doubling the capacity of hospitals to creating new testing sites to accurately gauge the extent of the virus.
Unfortunately, however, the city has failed to adequately support its health care providers. Melanie Evans and Khadeeja Safdar of The Wall Street Journal have covered the shortages of N95 Masks and other key PPE, like gowns and face shields, which have affected hospitals all across the nation.
They specifically highlighted statements from NYC emergency-room physician Calvin Sun, who said he was reusing his mask from the day before.
This neglect of physicians and doctors across the city has been stunning, but Dr. Sun is not alone. Countless physicians have come forward complaining about this shortage.
With the virus projected to peak in 45 days, our healthcare workers need to be given the best protective equipment in order to do their work.
N95 masks are meant to be single-use; it is ludicrous that physicians and nurses are forced to reuse masks with several patients. If this continues, it’s only a matter of time before our health care workers succumb to the virus.
Italy should be seen as a sobering example of what results from ineffectively protecting our health care workers. Kate Feldman of New York Daily News found evidence from the National Health Institute of Italy indicating that around 5,000 Italian healthcare workers have tested positive for Coronavirus.
Italy’s COVID-19 infection count is almost 60,000 and climbing, with health care workers accounting for around 9 percent of all infections. Feldman has suggested having affected health care workers unable to provide treatment to patients will be an even greater blow to the health care system.
With New York City’s virus progression approximately two weeks behind Italy’s, we must prioritize protecting our health care workers. China has used full-body suits and better preventive techniques, and reports of infection amongst health care workers are closer to 3 percent.
American preventative practices, alarmingly, are far behind. It is frightening to imagine the consequences if we do not prioritize our health care providers. After all, without our doctors and nurses, what will we do?
It is time to support and thank the health care workers of the Long Island and New York City area, where the contagion has proliferated more than anywhere else. To them we say, thank you for putting your and your family’s lives on the line to fulfill your honorable duty.
Thank you for relentlessly operating in perilous conditions to save everyone possible. The sacrifices you’ve made will not go unnoticed, and the thousands you save will be indebted to you for your service.
Together we must continue to vouch for the safety of the medical community and raise awareness of this crisis.
This virus will undoubtedly continue wreaking havoc on our city, but these workers are our great hope who, through their selfless sacrifice, are a literal lifeline to this suffering city.