At This Point in Time, Before Access to a Vaccine, Humans Must Take Control of Stopping the Spread of COVID-19

by Carol Duff MSN, BA, RN

SitRep: States are opening up businesses which have been shuttered for weeks, allowing restaurants to serve food instead of just providing carry out orders, opening up more opportunities for people to be in close physical contact with those they do not live with. This is not a sign that COVID-19 is under control.  Far from it, as thousands more are infected daily and hundreds are still dying from the ravages of this virus. The practice of physical distancing is not taking away human rights. Physical distancing is being smart, clever.  Let me explain more fully……

This vignette is introducing you to a real person who goes to work every day and 100 % KNOWS that she is exposed to COVID-19. She 100% recognizes she is less than 6 feet (suggested, required physical safe distancing, although I personally would recommend 13 feet) from anyone she is responsible for taking care on her COVID-19 ICU unit.   She is not/has not been tested for COVID-19 because at present, thankfully, and knock on wood, she has no symptoms of this insidious viral infection. Having symptoms of this viral infection is the criteria for being tested for COVID-19 if you are a healthcare worker.  This in itself seems wrong for a number of reasons.

Daily, I ask how she is doing and daily she answers how tired she is.  Also, now how she is discouraged, afraid of what “opening of businesses” and generally allowing business as usual to proceed will do to the intake of patients she will see in her medical intensive care unit (MICU) which was designated as a COVID-19 treatment unit weeks ago.

Initially, the personal protective equipment (PPE) for her unit was not adequate, but now, thanks to the diligent work of her unit manager, they have enough equipment to really, medically deal with the COVID-19 virus with as much sanitation/protection as possible.  As an aside, did you know that every single time a healthcare worker administers care to a COVID-19 patient, even if he or she has been with that patient five minutes before, he or she needs to change gown, gloves, and preferably mask and face shield ? This is done to prevent cross-contamination from taking care of a previous patient and also to protect the healthcare worker.  For the person mentioned in this article, PPE equipment numbers is adequate, but I am sadly suspicious that that is not the case for all healthcare workers all over the U.S. and the world.  Lack of PPEs in itself is a travesty and putting health care workers out there without the abundance of protective gear is like, in the past, sending troops to let’s say, the Vietnam Conflict without clean, non- Agent Orange laced water, adequate food, adequate shelter,  and  ammunition to fight the Vietnamese warrior who was simply defending his country against outside oppression.  But I digress….

Recently, the nurse I am focusing on has had two co-workers admitted to her ICU unit….one of them a fellow nurse and dear friend.  This person was young, 31, had elevated temperatures for days and finally difficulty in breathing which forced him to come to the hospital.  As a healthcare worker in an ICU which takes care of COVID-19 patients, he waited to come to the hospital, very much cognizant of the fact that if he was not already infected, he would become infected with COVID-19 once he arrived at the hospital ER.  Protocols for isolation of potential COVID-19 patient have been in place for weeks but when you are fighting something you cannot physically visualize; you can never be sure.

Here is a revisit as to what the world is dealing with, when confronted with COVID-19.  A novel (new) virus never before seen or tested, a wild card, which can do just about anything it wants to the human body has been unleased and is spreading by human to human contact.

COVID-19 can cause extremely aggravated inflammatory responses in the blood vessels, which set the body up for the potential for blood clots which will lodge in a downwind vessel that is too small to let the minuscule clot pass which will then kill any tissue beyond that level by cutting off the supply of oxygenated blood which will starve any tissues of live giving oxygenated blood, and kill them.  This process can kill heart muscle tissue, kidneys, lungs, liver, all the organ systems that the body needs to properly function to sustain life. The COVID-19 body can eventually go into multi-system organ failure which inevitably leads to death.

COVID-19 is a virus and being a (lowly cell form) virus cannot replicate using its own devices. A virus, for all its potential to harm a human body, has no ability to replicate (multiplying) by itself.  Novel coronavirus 2019 (as well as all other viruses) hijack human cells and uses the human cell’s reproductive system to make more of itself. Viruses are insidious, users, parasites and cannot proceed with their destructive processes unless they can replicate.  That is where the human body comes into play.  We are being used as hosts to make more of COVID-19.

I am also going out on a limb, and say whoever, whatever, is responsible for the production of this insidious virus is of no real consequence now that we are on the front lines of trying to defeat it.  The entire world is at risk. We must find methods to stop the destruction it can cause the human body. We must find ways to keep humans from contracting COVID-19 as well as ways to treat those who have it. There are scores of labs working to perfect a vaccine.

Back to the story of a real person, doing her job everyday no matter how scared, discouraged she might feel. She needs help in her hard fought endeavors to save each and every person she has in her ICU.  She does not see a patient as a potential dead person.  She sees them as a person she will help get back to his or her family to complete the life he or she had before COVID-19.  Death of a patient is not an inevitable outcome to her. She cannot say, “well, he was old, or she had emphysema, dementia, diabetes, was overweight, etc.” To her, these are not excuses for having a patient die.

Do you want to help to save others, grandparents, parents, children, grandchildren, etc., and potentially save yourself from a needless death brought on by COVID-19?   Come on!  This is a virus that is spread by human contact.  It is no more simple/complicated than this.  The COVID-19 virus comes from a person (who is infected with COIVD-19) by means of droplets, spreading of fluids from the mouth, nose, into the air, where they can be inhaled by another human.

What can we as intelligent, real, humans do?  What is in our direct power to control? We simply can stay away from other humans for as long as this virus is spreading… I have no clue as to how long this potential spread of COVID-19 can go on, but every time/instance you can limit your potential proximity to anyone (because any human can unintentionally be harboring this virus and have no symptoms or know he or she is ill) you can put a glitch/blip/stop gap in the way of COVID-19.  Disrupt its spread. Stop making it easy for it.   We are simply dealing with distancing ourselves for as long as it takes to stop being the host for the spread of this virus.

Bottom line:

  • Wash your hand all the time with lots of soap and water. All the time no matter how boring this may be. Best line of defense, hands down (no pun intended.)
  • Do not touch your face, mouth, nose, or eyes without first thoroughly washing your hands with lots of soap and water. If the virus is on your hands and you touch your face, you have given COVID-19 a free ride.
  • Stay at least 6 feet (I recommend 13 feet) from anyone you are not currently living with.
  • Take the time to practice these common sanitary measures.
  • Do not give up or become uncaring, disconsolate. Regroup, fortify, run around the end, do not be a victim, do not give in.

In the end you can hope that you make an impact in saving the lives of those you love and yourself and everyone you are around, and also make the lives of those who are on the front lines a lot easier by not becoming one of those positive COVID-19 patients who will certainly have a challenging route to becoming healthy as opposed to a “death from COVID-19” statistic.  This can become your new purpose in life. We have a chance to think/work a little harder and stop the spread of COVID-19 and take back the world from this sniveling, stinking, hateful, evil, no good, human-killing virus. We can do it!…….Carol



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