Healthcare workers are currently facing a double jeopardy. Not only do they risk exposure to COVID-19 every day in the hospitals, clinics, and other facilities where they work, they also pose a danger to their families when they come home. Christian Rose, MD, of Stanford University contemplates the risk—and finds one way to protect his loved ones—in an editorial from the New England Journal of Medicine.
But now that coronavirus has crept into San Francisco like Karl the Fog, visiting a bookstore can feel like a risk. Is it worth it? Mary wonders before stepping out the door. What if someone at Cal-Mart has it? Has my student who was coughing in the back row been traveling? “I’ll need to cancel my trip to Berlin,” she says, imagining the recirculated airplane air and the crowds moving through travel hubs and responding to evolving travel restrictions. Travel — especially to that once-war-torn city with its famous wall meant as a form of barrier protection from the infectious spread of capitalism — is one of Mary’s passions.
She is undeterred, however, since she has some control over these risks, and she vows to keep living her life and being involved in her community, if even remotely, until she’s told she can’t. The only restriction she is sure that she’ll avoid, at all costs, is visiting the hospital, where viruses jump around waiting rooms and hide in white coats and Half Windsors. “We’ve always said the real point of entry for coronavirus is a busy emergency room,” noted Mike Ryan of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Program. All Mary has to do is avoid the places where sick people go.
There’s only one problem: every day when I return home from work, I’m coming back from a busy emergency department (ED).
Read more from the New England Journal of Medicine.