Rising COVID Cases Across Texas Harm Health Care Workers

Man wearing navy blue camo face mask
Marlon models the navy camo face mask by Casupo

Public and elected officials must promote masks and physical distancing

For months nurses have been on the frontlines of the pandemic, working with limited resources to treat patients with and without COVID. As cases are surging in Texas, and patients from  El Paso are being moved to surrounding cities, nurses are worried about the current trajectory.

Nurses across Texas are alarmed at the increase in COVID-19 cases, and hospitals in several major cities are at capacity. Texas has close to a million COVID-19 cases this week, meaning one in 10 American cases and one in every 50 cases worldwide is in Texas. Texas Nurses Association implores local and state officials to stand up for their constituents and protect public health by promoting masks. We urge every resident of Texas to wear masks and practice physical distancing to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Just like wearing a seatbelt or helmet, masks are uncomfortable but lifesaving. In addition, just like smoking in public, not wearing a mask puts others at risk. While adherence to wearing masks and distancing is a matter of personal responsibility, when Texans fail to act responsibly, it is health care workers and the health care system that pay the price. We need every person in this state to do your part to help Texas fight this virus.

Not Wearing A Mask Puts Others At Risk

Dr. Cindy Zolnierek, chief executive officer of Texas Nurses Association, urges Texans to remember that taking precautions is not a partisan request. “Wearing masks and distancing is the best defense we have against this virus. We need our elected officials to help the public understand how their actions affect everyone in the state. Not wearing a mask means directly putting others, including nurses, at risk.”

The rise in cases and hospitalizations means increasing strain and risk for nurses, doctors and other frontline health care workers. We do not have enough health care workers to staff beds that are filling up. Nurses are being brought in from other areas, and supplies, including ventilators and personal protective equipment, are running short. This also means the health system does not have the capacity to respond to non-COVID-19 health emergencies.

Dr. Kit Bredimus, chief nursing officer of Midland Memorial Hospital, spoke at the Midland city council meeting Tuesday morning, asking people to realize that “even if you are not hospitalized for COVID, this will affect you. Surgeries are being cancelled. New moms and babies are not able to have family by their side. If you are in a car accident, have a heart attack or need to be sent to a higher level of care, every ICU across this region and southern New Mexico is full, including ours.”

Anyone who refuses to wear a mask is directly putting others at risk of harm. Personal freedom should not extend to the freedom of putting others in danger. During this health crisis, we need Texans to be good neighbors and support their community and state as nurses face this virus on the frontlines every day.