Today, three staggering events happened in New York City. The newly converted Javits Convention Center opened as a hospital and the USNS Comfort hospital ship arrived. They each have 1000 beds for non-covid-19 patients from area hospitals freeing up much needed space for critical coronavirus cases.
— U.S. Navy (@USNavy) March 30, 2020
But the truly sobering news of the day is the field hospital being set up in Central Park to receive the overflow of coronavirus patients from nearby Mt Sinai Hospital. Yes, critical coronavirus patients are going to be fighting for their lives in tents.
I’m in Central Park – they’re building field hospitals for coronavirus patients pic.twitter.com/agpcmVNnXh
— carolynryan (@carolynryan) March 29, 2020
Exacerbating the situation is the ever growing and appalling, if not criminal, shortage of personal protection equipment for healthcare professionals treating and first responders transporting thousands of infected patients. As one nurse described it, ‘It’s the equivalent of asking a firefighter to run into a burning building wearing only a swimsuit.”
And still they do it.
What’s more, healthcare professionals from across the country are running into the epicenter to help, like this group arriving from Atlanta last Friday.
New York City may be starting to look like a third world country but that is First World Heroics.
Something else happened on Friday too, something remarkable and moving. New Yorkers came together to show their appreciation and gratitude to all the essential workers who keep the city alive in this time of crisis and began to #ClapBecauseWeCare.
From the Karla Otto agency who spearheaded #ClapBecauseWeCare, “Following successful activations in Europe, every Friday at 7 p.m., we ask for two minutes of applause for all essential workers, first responders, doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, and friends from your front doors, stoops, windows, balconies, roofs, living rooms, gardens, etc. From wherever you may be at a safe social distance!”
It’s worked so well that it didn’t just happen Friday night, but Saturday night and Sunday too! In fact, #ClapBecauseWeCare has gotten wall to wall news coverage, locally and nationally, that it’s become a nightly, communal phenomenon at 7pm in New York City.
Hopefully #ClapBecauseWeCare will spread across the country for the coronavirus pandemic is going to be a marathon, not a sprint. As any marathon runner will tell you, there’s nothing like people along the way clapping and cheering to keep you going.
Editor’s Note: One of theOUTfront’s valued contributors is a health care professional who spent decades fighting another viral epidemic, not only as a nurse but teaching generations of nursing professionals. When we asked her to write about her experiences a year ago, she told us this. “During the AIDS crisis, I’d tell all my nursing students, ‘learn everything you can right now treating people with AIDS. It’s not the last pandemic you’re going to see.’”
We are grateful for her wisdom.