Just months ago, my boss held a morning huddle to address the very first case of COVID-19 in New York and told us, “Listen guys, I know we are all terrified but I need you guys to be safe out there. I don’t want any of you to get it.” A week later, we found out my boss contracted the virus and laid helplessly with his mouth open with a tube going down his esophagus. He had lost so much weight and was barely recognizable. A person who was standing and very much speaking to us the week prior couldn’t physically say a word back to us now. How could this be? He was recovering well for a little while until he got moved to a nursing home and died from COVID complications. My boss had become a part of the daunting statistic of the dead bodies that I had become so numb to seeing every day.

We had a points chart that outlined all preexisting health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, etc. and assigned a certain number of points to each based on survival chances if someone contracted the virus. The higher the number of points a patient had based on their preexisting conditions, the least chances they had of surviving. Around March/April when the virus was at its peak, nearly every healthcare facility experienced a dire shortage for ventilators. During that time, we had no choice but to refer to this chart to determine who would get a ventilator. If there were 2 patients and both needed a ventilator, the one with the lower number of risk factors (points) would get the ventilator. Imagine having to choose between the value of each human life; the whole environment seemed like some sort of a horror or survival movie with no end in sight. I still remember a nurse friend of mine who had to transport a dead body to a truck outside the facility because the morgue was completely full; she was so traumatized by what she saw that she completely broke down in tears.

Seeing firsthand how the virus was viciously claiming lives and then hearing others make remarks that “it’s all a hoax” was infuriating. The lack of education and hypocrisy of the United States has been mindboggling. It’s incredibly frustrating seeing people walking around with no masks or not abiding by the recommendations of the CDC because of their own political views and self-interests. I just want people to know that COVID is real. I just want people to close their eyes, imagine if they were in a hospital bed all alone for hours, and ask themselves, “Was it worth it to not take this seriously? Would I want this?” If not, then just wear a mask.

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