NEW YORK – Despite “the months-long warning provided by China and Italy,” the U.S. government “failed to provide frontline health care workers with basic protections,” a paramedic wrote in a letter published earlier this week by The New York Times.
The letter, written by Mike Gardner, a paramedic that has been working in New York City for 20 years, called on the U.S. administration to ensure reliable production and distribution of personal protective gear, and to guarantee health insurance and income protection to frontline medical workers.
“The window of time to do this is now,” said Gardner, who responded to the 9/11 attacks in 2001, learning from the experience that the current “commitments” to and “clapping” for of ground zero workers will soon fade.
“Months into a pandemic that may last years, there is still no guarantee that protective gear supply chains will be restored and maintained,” said Gardner, noting that medical workers had to reuse single-use disposable masks in the first stages of the outbreak.
In addition to the crushing call-out volumes and staggering mortality rates, health care workers also have to endure wondering whether the health of their families and themselves is at risk, “and what will become of them if they are unable to work,” said Gardner.
“Let’s use this collective gratitude to enact legislation to guarantee health insurance and income protection to frontline workers who suffer any disability, physical or mental, arising from their exposure to the virus,” said Gardner.