COVID-19 has breached our state borders. There are four confirmed cases in Connecticut. I was supposed to fly to Washington today for a federal opioid conference, but the University of Connecticut president issued a decree cancelling all domestic travel for its faculty and staff. (1,2) The governor weighed in two days later and cancelled all domestic travel for state employees.
While I was looking forward to the conference, cancelling the trip at least spares me the horror of having a coughing fit on the plane and ending up being escorted off the plane by men in space suits and quarantined on some obscure naval research base.
I worked the ambulance Monday. Twice, I was screened on entering a building on a call. One was at the VA, where three masked nurses asked me if I had any flu symptoms or had traveled out of the country. I got the same questions at a nursing home, but they sort of let us through as they were soon overwhelmed by fire and police responders all racing past.
My first patient had a fever, a cough, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. But she hadn’t been out of the country for sixteen years and probably hadn’t been out of her home hospital bed for at least that many months. Another patient had a fever, but he had a septic hip, and also hadn’t been out of the country or had contact with anyone suspected of having COVID-19.
I washed my hands a ton of times. I ponder. If a hospital has a five month supply of Purell, but because of Corona fears, people are using Purell five times as much during the day, doesn’t the hospital just have a one month supply? I did run across a couple empty wall containers today that hopefully got refilled.
I didn’t work for a week so I was curious what the feel of the street was as far as corona. Washing hands. Yes. Wiping down the stretcher. Not so much. I tried to make certain to strip the stretcher after each call and wipe down the straps, but I didn’t notice a great change in people’s habits.
We didn’t get a whole of Corona training. We had to watch a fifteen minute or so video on-line that was pretty boring. That said, every year we get airborne pathogen training and there is nothing in there that is different with Corona.
Talking with others, the lines I heard the most were “The flu has killed more people this year than corona,” and “It’ll just be like getting a cold, I’m not afraid.”
My younger co-workers have no fear, which I also didn’t when I was their age. The older medics, like myself, are more concerned. At 61, I am according to some sources, supposed to be staying at home to protect myself.
We also received the CDC guidance and various sponsor hospital issued guidance.
We just received this notice today from the state:
New guidelines from the CDC recommend that instead of N95 surgical masks, health care workers can use looser-fitting face masks to shield themselves from contracting the coronavirus, a change prompted by an ongoing shortage of the N95 respirators. The virus is primarily spread by droplets, and the agency is narrowing its recommendation for the use of N95 masks to workers dealing with severely ill patients.
So the change to the lessor quality of protection is due to a shortage, not to safety.
A friend of mine on Monday told me he was worried we are going to run out of masks. He said his wife told him if that is the case, she will forbid him from going to work. But honey, he said, I have to work. He is the breadwinner and I don’t think he has reserves. I am worried that in our country people will hide their sickness because they can’t afford to miss a paycheck.
Lebron James the basketball great said the other day “I aint playing if the fans aren’t allowed to attend the games.” He says that’s who he plays for. I don’t expect him to be a public health expert to understand the threat of corona or the importance or lowing the transmissions. I’m watching a sports show on the TV now and they are talking about how much money it will cost the NBA owners if they have to cancel or put on games without fans in the stands. I understand the owners and players may lose some money, but we are talking ants to giants here, sports to global wellness. The economic cost to the world and all people will be much greater if this virus is not kept under some type of management. Not to mention the human cost. We may only get a cold, but if it gets passed to enough older people, many of them will die who otherwise would not have. We need to protect our frailest citizens. That outweighs watching the NBA playoffs, and I am a basketball fan. Go Celtics!
I have heard some employees from our company who were exposed to COVID-19 out west have been placed in self-isolation. I was reading what self-isolation is about, and while each article is different, they share some common themes.
You have to stay in your house. If you order pizza, the delivery man has to leave it on your doorstep. You are not supposed to go outside (leave your property). You should stay in one room. Ideally with your own bathroom. You shouldn’t go for a run in the woods. You might give corona to the racoons.
Again I ponder. What do the homeless do?
I read we should be using credit cards rather than passing bills which may contain the virus.
I usually carry a few spare dollars to hand out to people in need. Should I stop? They don’t have credit card machines. I handed out some dollars on Monday. I hope I didn’t pass any germs.
I’m back at work on Friday.
We’ll see what the day brings.