Beginning

My wife met me at the door when I came home from working in the city last night. She made me strip in the foyer, dropping all my clothes – my jacket, my work shirt, my work pants, my tee-shirt, my socks—in the laundry basket she placed next to me. Then I was marched, clad only in my briefs, into the bathroom to shower. If it had been summer, I expect this all may have taken place in the backyard where she would have decontaminated me with the garden hose.

I did four possible COVID calls, gowning up in surgical mask, googles and large yellow paper napkin gown, and gloves. Two of the patients were hypoxic, one was burning up and had rigors that seemed to almost shake the back of the ambulance, and made it impossible to get an ECG tracing. The other two looked fine, but they had verbal complaints of fever, cough, body aches and malaise. At one of the hospitals I went to, they had us go into a decontamination room where we transferred the patient onto a hospital stretcher, and then a nurse came and wheeled that stretcher away while we took off our contaminated gowns. At the other, we waited in the triage line, which admittedly was pretty short as the only people going to the hospital today seem to be COVID patients, patients who think they had COVID or patients with psychiatric complaints.

When I was finally clothed in sweats and comfortable socks, I went downstairs to my computer and checked in on the hospital cases. The numbers are rising, and I had to make several notifications to EMS services of contacts with patients who tested positive for COVID-19. The governor on TV said the surge is beginning. He might be right.

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