The other night, when I put out the call to health care professionals within my social networks to tell me what they’re experiencing in their hospitals right now, stories came pouring in about the lack of personal protective gear (PPE)—aka gowns, gloves, masks (especially the N95s necessary for aerosolized procedures like intubation), etc.
Disturbingly, one doctor described how her New York City hospital has forbidden anyone not working directly on a Covid ward from wearing any masks—even ones they’ve bought themselves. There are stories out there about health care professionals having masks literally ripped off their faces by administrators.
All the doctors and nurses I spoke to in NYC agreed they are desperately short of what they need to keep them safe. But they don’t blame their hospitals, the city, or even the state. They’re furious with the federal government and its lackadaisical response. As I write this, more than 22,000 people are infected in the city, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo says we are 30,000 ventilators short of what we will soon need in the state. The strategic national stockpile has 20,000. So, while New York State has more than half the cases in the U.S., Trump—a New Yorker—is only sending us 400 ventilators.
Our city rejected Trump, all his greed and hatred, and this just feels like spiteful payback. Americans will die because of his ego.
With so much press suddenly being dedicated to the critical lack of PPE, I went in a different direction in order to highlight yet another major problem, publishing an exclusive on BuzzFeed News: “NYC Told Doctors Without Symptoms To Not Take A Coronavirus Test—Even If They Are Exposed.”
We are literally in the epicenter of the contagion here and the city is telling health care professionals they shouldn’t get tested. (It’s not out of malice, it’s a practical response to a severe shortage of tests.) Regardless, these clinicians may be infected (symptoms or no) and are shedding virus quietly, potentially infecting patients and colleagues.
“Wow. That’s…wow,” said one ER doctor in Harlem of the new recommendations and the lack of PPE.
She pretty much speaks for all of us these days, from what I can tell. If only the people in the White House were listening.