By Marivir R. Montebon and Grace H. Labaguis
New York – (Updated 7:18 PM April 6, 2020) The Catholic observance of the Holy Week here is marred with grief and fear with the rising number of Filipinos dying due to COVID19 infections. The Philippine Consulate in New York has tallied 22 fatalities so far, including an elderly woman living in a senior home in Brooklyn and a Filipino jail nurse in Bergen, on Palm Sunday. Three days ago, the head count was 7 for New York and New Jersey on April 3, 2020.
“This is sad. I can’t wait for this pandemic to be over,” remarked Consul Arman Talbo. The Consulate General has alerted its Assistance to Nationals office in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that hit the two neighboring states the most.
There are currently over 4 million Filipinos in the US with approximately 143,000 living in New York and 137,000 in New Jersey. As of April 5, NY has 122,031 confirmed cases of COVID19 infections and 4159 deaths. New Jersey has 37,505 confirmed cases and 917 deaths.
Consul General Claro Cristobal in an interview with GMA News said that he has observed Filipinos have so far been compliant with the self-quarantine protocols and hygiene measures. “Many Filipino immigrants here are doctors and nurses, so they are very conscious of their health practices,” he opined.
NYC Mayor de Blasio, in his daily conference today April 6, told reporters that the public have thus far continued to observe social distancing and have mostly remained indoors, quoting NYPD reports. There are only a few reports of people defying social distancing protocol where police had to intervene, de Blasio assured.
The anguish of isolation
“This is a different kind of war because the enemy is invisible and pervasive. It is scary and sad because we could not be with our loved ones who are sick when they are admitted to the hospital,” said Luz Castro-Chavez, a caregiver for an elderly person in Ridgewood, Queens.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has detailed the medical protocol for those with symptoms of the coronavirus, specifically fever of 104 deg. and hard breathing to go to the ER immediately and be tested. No one is allowed to accompany the person to the hospital and all those living with the person are considered exposed and must thus isolate themselves. The moment the sick person gets into the hospital and found positive of COVID19, the entire therapeutic procedure is in the hands of the medical team, and family members could only follow-up through telephone calls or wait to be called.
“The anguish is in the waiting. You’ll never know when your call will be answered,” said Castro-Chavez. “They do not answer calls swiftly. It is understandable because they are attending to many patients. But it made me so anxious.” Fortunately, Chavez’s patient had been discharged and declared safe by his attending physician last week.
Government officials here warn the public against going out of their homes as a surge in cases is projected in the next two weeks. Shopping inside grocery stores is discouraged this time. “Our hospitals will hit full capacity this week. So we are telling everyone to stay home,” said De Blasio.
Meanwhile, medical staff here continue to lament on the continued lack of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). (See related story http://justcliqit.com/ny-nj-covid19-cases-surge-medical-gears-continue-to-dwindle/ ) (Featured photo of NYC medical staff in ‘full battle gear’ courtesy of Grace H. Labaguis of Synergy Production & Marketing Inc.)