SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Throughout the country, health care workers serving on the front line are falling, one-by-one, to the very same virus they are desperately trying to help their patients fight. 

“It was only a matter of time,” a borough resident and emergency room nurse at a Union County hospital currently home recovering from COVID-19 told TAPinto South Plainfield. “Everyone is getting sick but no one wants anyone to know. It’s like they see it as some sort of scarlet letter, but that shouldn’t be the case.”

For the resident, who spoke freely but asked that her name not be published due to concerns for her job, the symptoms first presented themselves on April 3. She secured an appointment to be tested on April 8 and quarantined herself in her home, telling TAPinto that she didn’t need the positive results that came back on April 13 to confirm what she already knew. 

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While she personally never had the fever or cough commonly associated with the virus, the resident instead experienced mild, intermittent shortness of breath, lost her appetite and sense of smell, and suffered extreme exhaustion. She spent a week locked in her bedroom, doing nothing but sleeping for the first four days. 

“Something as simple as getting up to go to the bathroom would leave me exhausted,” she said. “I took three naps a day…It literally wipes the life out of you.”

On any given day, said the resident, emergency room nurses throughout the country are seeing patients whose symptoms range from mild to moderate to severe. “In many cases, even if you came in for something else and didn’t exhibit any of the symptoms, most likely it turned out that you had COVID-19,” she said. 

Although she was always wearing a mask, the nurse said that for those in the medical field the exposure to COIVID-19 is ‘just so high’ and simply taking it off for a second – if only to replace it with another – puts you at risk. 

 “Every time you take it off you are breaking the seal and all those germs that the mask is filtering out are now going near your mouth and your nose,” she said. “People don’t realize just how exposed we are.” 

The South Plainfield nurse is currently cleared to return to work at the end of the week and while she cannot avoid going out, her advice to others is to ‘please, stay home.’

 “The incubation period is so long and the symptoms are so very broad. Even if you’re not sick you could be carrying it for weeks and never have symptoms but still be spreading it,” she said. “Everyone just needs to be more aware and, if it is not essential, do not go out. Please, just stay home.”

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