There Is No Outside



I’m writing this from home, because a few days into my work at the ED I developed upper respiratory symptoms. This wasn’t a surprise. Despite modest improvements in PPE availability over the past couple weeks, it’s likely that I’ve contracted the virus, as have so many other health workers. Though I spent my days in the ED swabbing others for the virus and will soon resume this work, I couldn’t get tested there myself. For that I had to travel forty minutes on the subway to another site, putting myself and other commuters at risk. But even that seems better than the ever-worsening status quo: a shortage of viral media containers is putting a stop to worker testing. In any case, broad testing with epidemiology to guide quarantine is no longer an available public-health intervention at this point, though we still need broad testing and the roll-out of a serology test (blood tests to look for immunity, rather than the nasal test to look for the virus) to guide us in the coming months. The test itself has significantly reduced clinical usefulness right now. It’s obvious to anyone in any hospital in New York that all of us are just walking through the smog. There is no outside.

There Is No Outside, Karim Sariahmed in n+1