Op-Ed: How it Feels with Parents on the Front Line

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Photo illustration purchased from BigStock.com.

Nico Jaffer

With school suspended for the near future, students are forced to remain inside their homes and watch as COVID-19 cases pile up throughout the nation. For people like me, however, there is a much greater risk for contracting the virus, as both of my parents work in an environment that is flooded with cases.

My parents are both doctors, which means that there is a high risk of them being contaminated when they come home every day after work. With all the sick patients that are coming in and out of their work facilities, it is not unlikely that either of my parents could end up sick themselves.

It is frightening that my parents could come home every day being infected with the virus. I like to think that they are protected through masks, but the reality is that they are still very exposed.

This is why when my parents come home every day, they immediately move into a pocket of the house that is now jokingly known to us as the “COVID Corner.”

The area is metaphorically roped off, as my parents want me and my brothers to have a minimal chance of getting sick. As soon as they enter the house each day, they take a shower and put their clothes directly in the wash.

“I’m worried on many fronts. I am worried about bringing an infection home to my family, and someone could get more sick than expected,” my mom, Katherine Economy, MD. Assistant Professor OBGYN Harvard Medical School, Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said.

However, her concern is not just for our family.  

When my parents come home every day, they immediately move into a pocket of the house that is now jokingly known to us as the “COVID Corner.”

“I am worried about my patients in the hospital because we have had to change the way we care for women who are pregnant,” she said. “I am worried about my co-workers, who come to work every day and work tirelessly all the while putting themselves and their families at risk in the setting of lack of supplies and lack of testing.”

I find it hard to believe that we need to have so many precautions in place because of a disease, but after hearing stories from my parents about the seemingly endless patients who are suffering from COVID-19 and need to be quarantined, I have a better grasp on the true meaning of the situation. 

Since the President has put us in a national state of emergency, I keep wondering how long this outbreak is truly going to last. Granted, it is highly unlikely that a cure will be found in the next few weeks or months, but how much worse can this get? How many more people will be infected? What is the peak, and when does this all end?

Unfortunately, I can’t provide the answers to these questions, I can only hope. That’s why I am encouraging everyone—people everywhere who are stuck in quarantine, people feeling helpless and people feeling bored—stick with self-quarantining. This can only last for so long, and not being in quarantine will only make it last longer and infect more people.

Even if I have to see my parents walk through the COVID Corner every day for the next three months, it will be worth it when all of this is over. Remember to stay safe—if not for yourself, for everybody around you. I know I will.