While people are (hopefully) staying home to avoid the coronavirus, medical personnel are on the front lines. They are the soldiers braving against a novel enemy, often without adequate supplies and equipment. As more severe cases of COVID-19 come rolling into emergency rooms, doctors, nurses, and technicians are working to the bone to save as many lives as they can. As they treat, they see the virus and its effects firsthand and hope they won’t bring the disease home to their families when their arduous shifts are over.
A doctor at a major New York Hospital described the situation as “a petri dish.” Over 200 medical workers had fallen ill, not an uncommon fate those working in emergency rooms and intensive care units. Yet they still show up to face the hordes of sick people who need them. They are truly heroes.
However, without proper equipment, their predicament becomes bleaker. More adversely affected countries can give the U.S. a hint for what may come. In China, over 3,000 doctors were infected, almost half from Wuhan where the pandemic started. Li Wenliang was a doctor who tries to warn the rest of the world about the infectious disease before he succumbed to it. In Italy, the amount of infected health care workers is double the size of China’s. In Spain, 14% of their cases are in the medical field. 
These medical workers have to witness people dying alone since their families are not allowed to visit. Moments after a patient passes on, the ventilator is snatched to save the next case. There are not enough masks for every hospital staff member, and that’s only one example of their resources being stretched thin. The emergency rooms are crowded with people who need to be put on oxygen. There’s often not much room to walk around the areas packed with stretchers.
“I am begging you to stay home,” wrote one nurse at a large Long Island hospital in New York. “Please. I cannot stay home and if you do not listen this will not end. It looks like a movie but it’s real life and I cannot believe it’s real.” 
These pictures are powerful images of those who confront this scene every day; they are the faces of regular people who have become heroes.
“Sharing the images reinforces the point that there are people out there who are working tirelessly around the clock to provide lifesaving supportive care to those who are sick,” said Dr. Anna Yaffee, a director of Global Health at Emory University. 
Here are eleven pictures of our brave and committed front liners.
After Working in the ICU for 13 Hours
“I don’t love selfies. Yesterday, though, I took this photo. After 13 hours in ICU. I am not a hero. I am a normal person”
Hours After Work in Intensive Care
“I’ve Been A Critical Care Nurse For 13 Years, And I’ve Never Seen Anything Like What Is Happening Now in Our Healthcare System. It Is Beyond Overwhelming”
“Not only are all of us fighting to survive the contagion itself, we are fighting for protection from an industry that failed to adequately prepare us for this pandemic. Everyone is scrambling. Our skills and expertise are being put to the test in every way imaginable right now. And it’s only just getting started.”
A Czech Doctor after a Long Shift
“We can’t anymore. We don’t sleep, we don’t eat.”
“This Is What You Look Like After Wearing An N95 Mask All Day. We Don’t Have Enough Of Anything. Help Us Help You.”
Anesthesiologist Dr. John Henao as his Hospital is Running Out of Personal Protective Equipment
To save resources for confirmed cases of coronavirus (as opposed to assumed case), Dr. Henao created his own gear to wear as he intubates all of his patients. He put on a CO2 sampling nasal cannula then places a regular plastic bag with a seal over his head and taped it securely around his neck. He ran the oxygen at 10 L/min and sampled his CO2 to monitor. Is this a safe and viable option? Probably not, but it demonstrates the dire need for proper supplies in hospitals.
“Just Finished A 12 Hour Shift Swabbing Symptomatic Covid19 Patients at Our Drive Thru Testing Site In Cleveland. We Collectively Swabbed 629 People”
“This Is My Mom. She’s 71 Years Old and Screening People From The Afternoon To Midnight. Thank the People That Expose Themselves And Go Through Hell Just To Make Sure People Are Safe.”
Dr. Joy Vink from NYC Battling the Coronavirus without Proper Personal Protective Gear
“I’m Not Afraid When I’m At Work. I’m Doing What I Was Trained to Do. I’m Afraid When We Run Out of Resources—Supplies And Staff.”
“Covid19 is real and it’s here. Stay home, wash your hands and stop buying all the things that healthcare workers need to do their job. When we don’t have what we need to take care of you, we too will become ill… then who’s left to take care of you and your loved ones?”
“Tiredness, Fear, and Concern in Addition to The Brands, Injuries And Heat Caused By Protective Equipment”
“This Guy Is My Guy and He Is an Emergency Room Doctor”
“...People are sick and this his job. My husband is also part of a medical Covid-19 team that will be doing everything & giving their everything to ensure as many people as possible come out on the other side of this crisis. He, along with every other extraordinary nurse and frontline worker, knows one thing is for sure: life how we have known it won’t look the same over the next several weeks. He will have to make devastating and heartbreaking decisions.
“He will be super exposed to the sickest patients. Some nights he will come home and need to talk. Other nights he won’t want to speak at all and that’s ok because I will be there.
“...My husband does not like accolades or much attention, hence the very few pics of him on IG. Though now more than ever he and every other frontline worker needs to be told they are our heroes… Thank you so much for your dedication & determination to fight this virus and to help those who need you now and need you the most.”
- Michael Schwirtz. Nurses Die, Doctors Fall Sick and Panic Rises on Virus Front Lines. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/30/nyregion/ny-coronavirus-doctors-sick.html March 30, 2020
- Dakin And one and Paul P. Murphy. What it’s like for health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. CNN. https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/27/us/inside-hospitals-coronavirus-vignettes/index.html March 29, 2020
- Liucija Adomaite and Greta Jaruševičiūtė. 34 Heartbreaking Pics Of Overworked Doctors Are Going Viral, Proving That They Too Have Human Limits. Bored Panda. https://www.boredpanda.com/doctors-nurses-photos-fighting-coronavirus/ March 26, 2020
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