Coronavirus infects friends and foe in an inflamed system

Maria via Zoom – screenshot by Jahmiel Jackson 20

“We will have to decide who gets to live and who gets to die,” the registered nurse said. 

The nurse, related to a faculty member, wishes to remain anonymous and will be referred to as “Jen.” 

The seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak hits closer to home in the school community than might be expected. Tough decisions await doctors and nurses on the front lines battling the virus while families and friends underestimate the indiscrimination of the coronavirus.

 “The invasive severity of the coronavirus,” a second-year resident at a hospital in Montgomery County said, “will not stop in order for the country to fix the equity gap.” The resident who wishes to remain anonymous said, “I try to my best to avoid all interactions with infected patients. I do not have any control over who gets to be cared for and the interpersonal gain is not worth the risk.” 

Amidst the zenith of cancellations and lockdowns the world has ever seen, the CDC has yet to release extensive data on the racial impact of COVID-19.

  The New York Times reports that African Americans are at the most risk. African Americans are less likely to be insured, more likely to have existing health conditions and more likely to be denied testing and treatment than people of other races, public health experts say. The scarcity of testing kits, ventilators, and hospital beds forces doctors to transition to selective care. 

“It is to decide who gets a ventilator and who doesn’t in the worst-case scenario.”

“Jen,” a nurse at a local hospital

  “Patients with the flu are on ventilators for about three to four days. However, patients with the coronavirus are using ventilators for eleven-to-twelve days. With the flu, people usually infect one to two people before noticing their symptoms. For COVID, it is about four to five people,” Jen said. “A committee [at the hospital] was formed, and they have developed protocols, which they are not sharing to regular staff. And it is to decide who gets a ventilator and who doesn’t in the worst-case scenario.”

Hospitals have an obligation to maximize the level of care each patient gets while lowering the risk of exposure to its staff as much as possible.

“We have completely revamped our hospital into two sections. We have a COVID and a non-COVID area. We refer to them as ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ area,” Jen said. “It’s not that medical coverage is the problem. We send information of the patient over to the CDC and they determine who gets tested for it. Trust me, there’s a lot of testing that is not being done and doctors and nurses are being fired around the country for speaking out.” 

“We were told to reuse our masks, and I had my mask for two weeks…”

Hospitals similar to Jen’s neglect their staff’s safety: “We were told to reuse our masks, and I had my mask for two weeks, which would have never been acceptable in a normal environment. In fact, on the box of the masks, it says each mask should be discarded after each use. If you look at the PPE[personal protective equipment] in China and Italy, it’s nothing compared to what they are getting.”

There are many more downsides to having an under-resourced system.

The likelihood of a person knowing someone affected by the coronavirus increases every day. “About 90 percent of our patients are COVID-19 related,” Jen said. Jen’s statement holds true for a teacher at The Haverford School.

  “She[Kimberly] was like a sister to me; we stayed in the same room,” History Department Chair Ms. Hannah Turlish said. Kimberly Wetzel recently turned 50 years old. She lived and died in Brooklyn where she was a member of the LGBTQ community. “When I went to Germantown Academy, she was my host family because I lived in Maine.” 

Screenshot of Ms. Turlish via Google Meets – screenshot by Jahmiel Jackson ’20

“When it was someone that I was close to, that’s when it just hit me that this isn’t just something that old people die from. The hospital she was taken to was probably one of the hardest hit in the city and by the time she got there she was pretty far along.” 

Whether or not Kimberly died waiting for a bed is unknown. 

“Of course those with more money, will be able to have access to more resources, but that is not the reality for most Americans,” Jen said. 

Coverage on celebrities infected with the virus in one way or another represses local stories. 

“She rode with her motorcycle gang of women, door to door, delivering breast milk to mothers who had trouble lactating. It’s very unfortunate that amazing people like her don’t get the appreciation they deserve. We always think of famous people as not as vulnerable, but in some ways how we grieve discriminates,” Ms. Turlish said. 

“Both my aunt and my uncle were infected and died on the same day.”


Families of all ages are irreversibly damaged by the outbreak.

“Both my aunt and my uncle were infected and died on the same day,” a friend of a Haverford student who will be referred to as Maria said. 

President Trump’s administration announced that undocumented immigrants will not receive any aid from the government. 

“I remember them being very anxious and looking for opportunities to support their family during their self-quarantine,” Maria said. “Unfortunately, they got both of my cousins sick as well. Many of my family members are undocumented and our situation is just getting overlooked.”

Author: Jahmiel Jackson '20

Jackson is a member of the Journalism seminar. His essay "A Misunderstanding of the Law" won a Silver Key from the Scholastic Writing Awards. In addition to performing in plays, he enjoys cycling and Mock Trial. Jackson serves as a member of Congresswoman Mary Scanlon's (PA-5) Youth Committee.