Eve Ensler: Nurses Told to Work Even if They Have COVID Symptoms

Last evening, Kimberlé Crenshaw and the African American Policy Forum hosted a Zoom session called Under the Blacklight: The Intersectional Vulnerabilities that COVID Lays Bare. It featured an array of progressive leaders including Eve Ensler, Laura Flanders, Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Ai-jen Poo, Dorothy Roberts and Alvin Starks.

Kimberlé Crenshaw and the African American Policy Forum hosted a Zoom session called Under the Blacklight: The Intersectional Vulnerabilities that COVID Lays Bare. (Image Credit: AAPF)

There were many great points discussed in the meeting, but as a health care provider, I want to bring one point right to the surface. Eve Ensler, when discussing her work supporting nurses in the COVID crisis, said that many nurses are reporting that they are being told that they need to show up for work even though they have COVID symptoms such as cough, congestion, and exhaustion, or the beginnings of symptoms which can sometimes look like nausea and vomiting, sleeplessness, and “just not feeling right.”

At the same time, huge advances are taking place with capacities to test for COVID. In the UK, a new 15-minute home test kit for COVID will be available in days through pharmacies or by delivery from Amazon. This test will “detect the presence of the antibodies IGM, which emerges in the early stages of infection, and IGG, which increases during the body’s response to the virus.”

It seems like the US is SO far behind in the testing of this virus, and the rest of the world is figuring it out way before us. Why is that? We have health care workers on the frontlines who deserve to know their own status so they can reduce the contagion and also improve their own outcomes if they test positive. This is the kind of injustice that is going on today.

A company called Everywell is now providing tests for health care workers online. However, for regulatory reasons, these tests are “not available in NJ, NY, and RI, or outside the United States.” We’re in RI. And the biggest outbreak of COVID is in NY. These regulatory restrictions need to be lifted.

The rest of the AAPF webinar looked at many other aspects of the injustices being exposed by COVID, including the lack of shelter for people and the lack of health care services that will fall hardest on poor communities. We will provide a recording of the session when it is made available.

Kiersten Marek

Author: Kiersten Marek

Kiersten Marek, LICSW, is the founder of Philanthropy Women. She practices clinical social work in Cranston, Rhode Island, and writes about how women donors and their allies are advancing social change.

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