Living with a COVID-19 Nurse During a Pandemic

By Jenna DeLuca

When I first read about the coronavirus quickly ambushing several nations across the world, it really didn’t faze me. In my opinion, it was no different than Ebola, Zika or any other foreign virus with a previous history of making its way to the US and then eventually getting resolved. I’ll be honest: I didn’t think it would remotely affect my life in any way, shape or form. I had a misleading faith of this all blowing over in a few months. I assumed it would go away as quickly as it had arrived. 

But I think for many of us at YSU, the severity of this situation didn’t quite hit us  when instruction was initially moved completely online; this was just a thrilling time for us to enjoy an extra week of spring break. Consequently, I saw further spontaneous spring break pictures on social media.

I wasn’t quite sure how to perceive it when the first case hit Cleveland, but before I knew it, Mahoning County fell victim too. Yet this news alone wasn’t what exactly shook me to my core.

I quickly found myself in a unique situation: my sister was assigned to be a COVID-19 nurse.

We didn’t know where her position would leave her, or any of our family, standing as we all lived under the same roof. While I didn’t get to see the ugly, I got to see how the ugly had personally affected her. 

I remember her choked up as she explained how the virus really did affect her patients. I remember the blatant concern written over all of our faces during such a discussion. There was a new level of desperation reached by all parties involved. 

No matter what the nurses and doctors did, fevers didn’t break, the hospital was filling up, patients were routinely intubated, personal protective equipment was running out and some patients never got to make it home. Some nurses around the world even made the tough decision to find alternative housing in order to avoid the risk of infecting their children.

The weight of the world was on healthcare workers’ shoulders, which they were bearing without a real sense of direction.

Her carrying home the virus was a possibility I came to accept. Nurses all over the country were coming down with COVID-19. For most people, they simply knew to stay home and follow precautions, but I was in the position where staying home was not my safe haven. It very well could’ve been my source of the virus.

My parents knew this. My mom disinfected the house top to bottom every single day. My sister’s uniform was left in the garage in a garbage bag. We routinely took our temperatures,  did what the governor asked of his fellow Ohioans and hoped for the best. 

After several months of trial and error, it somehow worked out. 

It may be an inconvenience to wear my mask all the time, to avoid social gatherings and to attend almost all of my classes online most of the time. But I’m okay. My family is okay. And I’m fine with the little inconveniences if it means avoiding the big ones.

All in all, my sister never contracted COVID-19. In fact, the number of cases locally dropped to the point where she was no longer assigned to treat it. 

While the virus is still very prevalent today in the U.S., I think it’s important to reflect and look back at what the start of the pandemic used to look like. Although we are living in a historic time, we are in a better place, even if the number of cases continue to fluctuate.