Coronavirus from the perspective of a young EMT

Before the start of 2020 we boasted that this decade would be the start of the second “Roaring 20s”, little did we know just how wrong we would be for many different reasons that we’ll save for another day, another post —maybe when i’m feeling more political. In January we were getting rumors, reports, and memes about this “new virus” that was breaking out in China. The infamous “Coronavirus” or later dubbed “COVID-19” still “plagues” us to this day and I put that in quotes because the one thing that continues to astonish me about this global pandemic is the fact that we have yet to have a unified effort, atleast in this country, to fight it. COVID-19 if you didn’t know, is an acronym. CO for ‘corona’, VI for ‘virus’, and D for ‘disease’.

Today is August 19, 2020, the US currently has 580k confirmed cases and 9.7k deaths. I have to admit, I feel the same about the virus when it was just coming to fruition in Feb-March, it’s just like the seasonal flu but can wreak havoc on the respiratory system and those that fall in the “at-risk” category. Hear me out. I spent the majority of last year in a private ambulance company, i’m just a lowly EMT so by no means am I some huge medical professional, I barely fit in the “Heroes Work Here” category. Between transporting easily over 100 confirmed cases with all symptoms ranging from “Just another day” to vented patients. We were called by the state to carry out testing for those that wanted to volunteer to be a part of it. So naturally because I love my job and because I wanted to expand my knowledge on the virus, I volunteered. I went six different time over the course of the three month “mission” testing all high occupancy facilities all across Florida. Facilities meaning assisted living facilities, rehab facilities, memory care, and on the first day of testing we went to a prison. All in I tested well over 200 patients. Like most people it wasn’t long until I started building my own opinion on the severity of the virus and just how “at risk” I was being exposed to it every shift.

Like I said, I have the same beliefs about the virus as I did a couple months into this Global Pandemic, with that being said it’s hard to pick a position in this fight against it, and it’s a shame we’re so divided that it’s choosing between black and white. Ultimately I think it’s important to practice social distancing, I think if the US as a whole were come together rapidly we’d be so much closer to eradicating it all together. What’s crazy is the reasoning behind those on either side of the mask. We have those that don’t want to wear a mask simply because they think it’s “Unconstitutional” or harmful to health which is laughable at best — unless you have an actual condition, and not just claiming it lowers your oxygen saturation. Then we have those that are contributing to the “social chaos” which surprising throughout most of this pandemic has been social media and those clearing out stores of their toilet paper and any alcohol or bleach based product. Where the real problem lies somewhere in the middle of these two extremes both parties —not a political statement. One thing that is extremely frustrating throughout this pandemic is rhetoric that because the CDC Guidelines and statistics are changing and the first response of a lot of US citizens, is to just do away with it, keep in mind the CDC is entity of the federal government. The reason why guidelines change is because information changes as it becomes more readily available upon studying the virus. The reason why thousands upon thousands of tests are coming back as false-positives is probably because the is a new virus and every advancement on this is uncharted territory. One of the biggest issues with these tests is the unavailability of rigorous testing before using them in the field. Being able to isolate a certain microorganism to identify an ailment can prove difficult. A lot of things can go wrong with these tests and did, from batches being ill-mixed, or the shipping and handling time increasing false-positive likelihood.

Developing a vaccine is a little different, there are a couple different ways to develop a vaccine, you can weaken the virus and give it to the body so the body can fight it off and develop antibodies towards that specific ailment, such as Chickenpox or the seasonal flu. The virus can be killed or inactivated, giving it zero chance to reproduce or even give mild symptoms, common ailments that fall under this category are polio, Hep A, and rabies. Lastly, you can take part of the virus and create a vaccine — HPV vaccine — or take a part of the bacteria and make a vaccine — tetanus. You get the point, it’s a complicated process that requires rigorous testing and even then it’s not 100%, nothing involving medicine is ever 100%. Something to think about.

-kv

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