Frontline Healthcare Professionals: America’s New Expendables?
Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases, alzheimer’s, other dementias, and other diseases are far more serious than COVID-19 for the vast majority of people.
When novel coronavirus outbreaks end, they’ll likely affect 1% or 2% of people in nations worldwide.
Most people will recover. To date, about half of 1% of infected individuals died worldwide, roughly the same percentage in the US.
In contrast, about 14% of individuals who have heart attacks die, about 650,000 in recent years.
In 2018, around 610,000 Americans died from cancer, 160,000 from chronic lower respiratory diseases, 146,000 from stroke, 121,000 from Alzheimer’s, 84,000 from diabetes — about 170,000 from accidents, according to official numbers that may or may not be accurate.
Diabetes deaths are likely much higher than officially reported as an estimated 22 million Americas have the disease.
To date, around 820,000 Americans had or still have COVID-19. About 45,000 died. Others recovered or will recover in the days ahead. A small percent of cases are severe.
While most people won’t be affected by COVID-19, frontline healthcare professionals are most vulnerable.
Doctors and nurses are there for us when ill, including from infectious diseases like COVID-19, putting themselves at risk from contagion.
Through last week, around 9,300 US healthcare professionals tested positive for COVID-19, according to the CDC, the true number likely much higher.
National Nurses United (NNU), the largest RN union in the US, believes “tens of thousands of healthcare workers nationwide…have become infected with COVID-19 due to lack of personal protective equipment (PPE).”
On Tuesday, dozens of registered nurses protested in front of the White House.
Practicing social distancing, they read aloud the names of about 50 healthcare professionals who died from the disease — likely becoming infected on the frontlines of treating COVID-19 patients or others infected with the disease.
On March 4, NNU called on the Trump regime’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to provide the nation’s healthcare professionals with vital PPE — a response never received.
Maximum protection is needed to treat patients with infectious diseases. The Trump regime and Congress are largely indifferent to public health and welfare.
NNU demanded that Trump use his authority under the Defense Production Act to mass produce PPE.
Because it must be changed from one patient to the next, billions of face masks, shields, gowns, and gloves are needed — for treating all infectious and other diseases.
US testing is woefully inadequate. Congressional economic stimulus legislation omitted healthcare funding for infected individuals.
NNU president Deborah Burger expressed what most nurses likely feel, saying: “We’re tired of being treated as if we are expendable.”
“If we are killed in this pandemic, there won’t be anybody to take care of the rest of the sick people that are going to come.”
“Everybody says they love nurses. They want to protect us, but we still don’t have the safety gear that we need.”
US states keeping track of COVID-19 cases demographically report that over 10% are medical professionals.
In Ohio last week, about 20% of COVID-19 outbreaks affected healthcare staff, over 1,300 individuals.
In Italy, nearly 13,000 healthcare professionals tested positive for COVID-19 — 94 doctors and 26 nurses died.
In Spain last month, 14% of COVID-19 infected individuals were healthcare professionals.
China reported over 3,300 infected doctors and nurses, over a dozen deaths.
Professionals on the frontlines of providing healthcare deserve maximum protection against infection.
They’re not getting it because of lack of federal preparedness and funding.
COVID-19 can affect the lungs, kidneys, heart, liver, and can cause intestinal damage.
It’s unclear if US outbreaks and deaths are peaking. On Tuesday, about 2,800 deaths were reported.
While the elderly, anyone with a weak immune system, and/or with other serious health issues are most vulnerable, it’s sensible for everyone to take precautions to stay safe.
It’s wise to practice good health habits at all times to minimize vulnerability to diseases.
My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”