Access Now: AORN COVID-19 Clinical Support

Archive April 2020 XXI, No. 4

Behind Closed Doors: Pandemonium During the Pandemic

People cope with the fear of the unknown in interesting ways.

Paula Watkins

Paula Watkins, RN, CNOR


BARGAINING CHIP Will the hoarders who stocked up on toilet paper use those coveted rolls to trade for groceries?

There's simply no reference for dealing with the coronavirus outbreak. As I prepare to embark on an assignment in a California hot spot, there are some pandemic-related developments I can't wrap my warped mind around.

  • Toilet paper hoarding. I read online that police are patrolling paper product aisles in some grocery stores. How much Charmin do people go through in a month? Maybe if this pandemic doesn't let up anytime soon, all that quilted comfort can be used as a bartering tool.
  • Public ignorance. We've all seen the clips of college kids partying on Florida beaches, gathering in huge numbers and attempting to justifying their actions after a few too many Coronas with ignorant comments like, "If I get Corona, I get Corona." I hope none of these spring breakers learn firsthand what it's like to take this deadly virus home to their parents or grandparents. People's ignorance of this virus is pushing our healthcare system to capacity and directly leading to unnecessary deaths. While you may not have symptoms or get sick, you can be a carrier — COVID-19 needs a host to survive, and it will take whomever it can get. This virus doesn't care about age. Yes, even you young things aren't immune. Please fly solo with your Solo cups.
  • PPE problems. I find the current shortage to be a crime. We have brave healtcare workers serving their country on the front lines without the equipment to safely do so. Can't the companies that had their sterile packs recalled make some adjustments in their production and create some masks? If liquor distilleries can change char oak barrels in the middle of the stream and make hand sanitizer, shouldn't medical manufacturers be able to find a way to do something in the country's hour of need? My sources tell me liquor stores are doing a booming business. Maybe there are some other distilling entrepreneurs making their own hand sanitizer. What's the alcohol percent in Vodka?
  • Social distancing. I've been saying for years that I was going to start wearing gloves and a mask in certain retail stores. What better time than now? In line at the grocery store, I'm standing six feet away from the person in front of me and using the food cart as a barricade against the guy behind me. The third person in line started coughing like a smoker. Everyone nearby, myself included, stopped talking, the cashier stopped scanning products and everyone turned their heads at the same time to look at Miss Coughing-Up-A-Lung. Seriously, a half dozen people left their carts where they stood and practically ran for the exit door. In the meantime, Miss Cougher was stammering and swearing that it was only a sinus infection.
  • Sanitizing insanity. I've been on a hand sanitizer frenzy. Totally obsessed. I went to a pharmacy drive-thru and wiped my debit card with hand sanitizer before I gave it to the clerk. When she gave it back to me, I sanitized the card and the prescription. When I went to an ATM, I sanitized the buttons, my debit card when it came back — and even the money I received. Then, when I returned home, I immediately showered and scrubbed with Dial soap.

We will get through this pandemic. Be diligent in protecting yourselves and take every possible precaution. Try to find humor and laughter wherever you can and, above all, please be safe. Until next month, when we can only hope our lives are closer to returning to some semblance of normalcy. OSM

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