Apr 2, 2020 - Health

Health care workers fear the coronavirus surge

Medical workers prepare to test people in Las Vegas. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Doctors, nurses and other health care workers are afraid for their health — and in some cases their lives — as the mounting coronavirus outbreak closes in on a health care system that doesn't have enough equipment and overworks its people.

What they're saying: "It's a mess, and there's no help," Alan Roth, a doctor at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in Queens, New York, said last week. "We have been left out to dry."

The big picture: Dwindling supplies of face masks, gowns and necessary hospital equipment continue to worry health care workers in areas where the coronavirus cases have spiked.

  • Chuck Fox, a gastroenterologist in Atlanta, said on a conference call that a doctor at a nearby hospital had been using the same N95 mask for two straight weeks and was intermittently disinfecting it with Clorox wipes.
  • Roseann Farris, a critical care nurse at Watson Community Hospital in California, is worried that her hospital, which has not seen a surge yet, will run out of supplies. She and her colleagues walked out this week, urging hospital administrators to explain how they plan to replenish their stockpile.

The worries extend well beyond doctors and nurses.

  • Hospital technicians, therapists, janitors and other service staff feel especially neglected and worry about contracting the virus, the Center for Public Integrity reports.
  • A former home health therapist in New York tells Axios that his company told employees to persuade patients to continue getting home care, even if the patients were concerned about the coronavirus. Many of those patients are older and have several medical conditions, and thus are at a higher risk of contracting the virus, the person said.

What to watch: Health care workers are starting to die more frequently. Whether that trend continues will depend on how well hospitals and the system at large protects them.

Go deeper: Health care workers in the calm before the storm

Go deeper

The pandemic’s health side effects are growing

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Nearly half of Americans said that either they or someone in their household has skipped or delayed needed medical care because of the coronavirus, according to new polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Why it matters: Shutting down elective medical care may have been necessary, particularly in coronavirus hotspots, but will have lasting effects on some patients.

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

About 40.7 million Americans have filed for unemployment since the coronavirus pandemic began, including 2.1 million more claims filed from last week.

Why it matters: Even as states reopen their economies, Americans are still seeking relief. Revised data out Thursday also showed U.S. economy shrunk by an annualized 5% in the first quarter — worse than the initially estimate of 4.8%.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 5,722,859 — Total deaths: 356,435 — Total recoveries — 2,374,387Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 1,702,911 — Total deaths: 100,576 — Total recoveries: 391,508 — Total tested: 15,192,481Map.
  3. Business: U.S. GDP drop revised lower to 5% in the first quarter — 2.1 million Americans filed for unemployment last week.
  4. States: America's megacities could lose economic growth due to remote work.
  5. 2020: Joe Biden to speak virtually at Texas Democratic Convention.
  6. ✈️Transportation: What airlines are offering passengers to ensure social distancing.
  7. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy