When I work the city, I drive Park Street and look for users I know. How are they making out? Inez, who I see in front of El Mercado, has a mask on. She comes over when we pull to the curb. I give her an orange and a couple dollars. She says she is trying to keep safe. I tell her while she needs to keep social distance, she still needs to have people around when she uses. She says she understands.
Park Street seems more deserted these days. Many of the people are wearing masks, but not all. When I drive back down the street that afternoon, I see Inez again and she no longer has her mask on and is hanging with two dudes in hoodies.
I see my friend Chloe who works as a prostitute. She has a cough and her voice is hoarse. Business has dried up for her, but she says she has a man looking out for her. I see him standing in a doorway down from us beckoning to her. She says some of the guys get nervous when she is seen talking to the ambulance people. If you want to get off the street, I say, and away from all this, get in the back. We’ll take you to the hospital. Tell them you want detox. Tell them you are afraid you are going to kill yourself out here. I know, I should, she says, but not today. I’m not ready. She looks back over her shoulder at the man watching her. I wave to him, but he doesn’t wave back. I give her my package of pretzel brown sugar cinnamon Pop Tarts, an apple I got from the hospital EMS room and a bottle of Gatorade, along with five bucks. Stay safe, I say.
We get called for chest pain at a halfway house. The man sitting on the steps wants to get a Corona test because some guys in the house have it and he is worried he may have it to. I tell him we will take him in and get his chest pain (now gone) looked at, but they will only test him for COVID if they admit him. He declines transport.
Another user comes up to me later in the day and asks me the symptoms of Corona. He has a cough and chest pain. He wants me to take his temperature, but I tell him we don’t carry thermometers, which is true. I offer to take him to the hospital, but he says, no, that’s okay.
It is a cold windy day. Up by the Fastrack bus stop, there must be fifteen users all sitting together sheltering, not one of them has a mask on.
On my phone, when I check my email, I see there is another overdose spike alert in New Haven County to our south.
On the north side of town, one of our ambulances is sent for an unresponsive. A half hour later on the radio, I hear them call the hospital to speak with a doctor. They have been working the young man found in asystole (flatline) with drug paraphernalia on scene for over twenty minutes and want permission to cease the resuscitation and presume him dead. It is granted.
A medic in Waterbury, sends me a picture of a new heroin bag he found there at an overdose scene.