A NURSE - TESTED FOR ANTIBODIES, TESTED BY PROTESTERS
Over the past several weeks, WWJ’s Rob St. Mary has spoken to an ICU nurse at a local health system who came down with COVID-19.
In recent shows, he’s followed her from illness to recovery to returning to work. On this week’s episode, she discussed how her recovery could be helpful to others, but there’s some question about when you can give blood, testing, and antibodies.
The nurse is not being named and her hospital system is not being released in order to protect her job since she is not authorized to by employer to speak to the media.
About ten days ago she was cleared to return to work. After mostly recovering from COVID-19 she attempted to give blood but was rejected.
“I wanted to go donate some plasma as a confirmed COVID patient but found out, according to the Red Cross, my lack of smell means I still have an “active infection” and I can’t donate, yet, which does bother me that I’m out and about, working, when I have an 'active infection',” she said.
The nurse said some people she knows who have also recovered from the new coronavirus have received antibody tests. But, the tests came back negative. Two physicians told her to wait 6-to-8 weeks after all her symptoms have ended before she goes for antibody testing. Since there is so little study into the new disease, its believed that some with “active infection” will test negative for COVID-19 antibodies because they have not completely kicked the infection out of their systems. At the same time, she said there’s still some debate over standardization of antibody testing and concerns about accuracy.
“The antibody test right now - this is the wild, Wild West. You have projects from all over the place and everybody claims to have the most accurate one. But, at this point, no one has done enough testing to prove that their test is accurate,” she said.
The antibody test is seen as key to understanding which people can go back to work safely with the hopes they would not be re-infected. But if standards don’t exist and negatives come up for who did get COVID-19, she’s concerned that will lead to longer quarantine times. At the same time, the nurse said false positives could send infectious people back to the work where they could sicken others.
“The question becomes… are we going to give people a false sense of a superpower if they come back positive and will they be irresponsible if they were still active with the disease? There’s a good chance you might come back with antibodies and still be in an infective state. Will they go around spreading it? Will they not wear a mask? Will they not be careful with those out in the community who haven’t gotten the disease,” she said.
At the same time, the nurse said fever checks are good. But, they do not tell the full picture of if something is infected with COVID-19 or not. Some of symptoms are much more hidden and subtle. She said some mild cases have been nothing more than a headache that has lasted a few days. The nurse said she’s concerned that people which such as a case, but still infectious, could see their headaches as just merely stress related.
While her ICU remains at capacity, other areas of her hospital are dealing with few severe COVID patients. She said that they have had very few people coming off the ventilators. Because of that, there’s little information on what makes it more likely for patients to recover. She said the federal government or some university needs to step up, collect papers, research, and survey doctors nationally about what is working and what is not in order to create better outcomes for patients when it comes to the illness.
Because of the amount of deaths she’s seeing in the ICU, the work is getting more and more depressing. The nurse said when you add the lack of interaction with family around the bed of the dying due to how highly contagious the virus is and it makes patients dying even harder psychologically.
At the same time, the nurse said the number of cases is causing her hospital to be a bit lax on standards of care that would be there during regular times. To her, this is unacceptable. She said those standards are there for safety of the staff as well as providing the best, most efficient care possible for patients.
In closing, she said that the recent “Operation Gridlock” protest in Lansing as well as complaints about the need to distance have put her in a place of feeling that support is slipping for people like her who just weeks ago were considered heroes.
“Just recently we have been to places were first responders have been allowed to be into a story before other people and instead of getting cheered now I feel like there’s grumbles in the crowd… and it’s terrible to think that we’ve gone from being like heroes to being looked at like as like one of the villains that’s there with (Governor) Whitmer because we’re ruining people’s lives by keeping them quarantined,” she said.
FREEP FILM FESTIVAL GOES VIRTUAL
The Seventh Annual Freep Film Festival, which was to feature 80 different events between April 22nd and April 26th, has decided on a stripped down virtual version while planning to reschedule its in-person events for later in the year.
The virtual edition will run Wednesday to Sunday featuring a program of 12 films available for viewers to watch at set times with filmmaker discussions after the screenings like a traditional film festival.
The documentaries are free to watch.You can get a complete schedule and links to the various screenings through this link: https://freepfilmfestival.com/virtual/.
RAMADAN DURING COVID-19
As Muslims worldwide get ready to celebrate the holy month of Ramadan, it is typically a time of fasting, prayer, and giving charity to the poor. During the month, Muslims fast from sunrise to sundown. Each night, the faithful typically break the fast with family, friends, and other community members in a feast called an Iftar. But, with “social distancing” closing mosques and making such gathering next to impossible, celebrations are moving online.Nargis Rahman is a Detroit area freelance writer, a member of the Bengali community, and a mother of three.
“Usually, this is a time when many people will see each other more than they ever do during the rest of the year. So, people really look forward to Ramadan,” she said.
The changes to the holiday due to COVID-19 will mean smaller celebrations at home, but also incorporating Internet technology to connect the faithful across the miles.“A lot of my friends who are parents feel like there is less social pressure this year and are looking forward to really being able to spend time with their families at home and focus on their spirituality,” she said.Because of the space usually reserved for time at the mosque, many Imams and other leaders have created online study sessions of the Quran, lectures, and other events for all ages.
Rahman wrote a piece recently for a blog focused Ramadan during COVID-19. Read it here.
Nargis Rahman is also a former fellow with Feet in 2 Worlds – a fellowship program that trains writers of color and those from immigrant backgrounds in the art of storytelling. You can learn more about the program here: http://www.fi2w.org/.
PLAGUE AND THE ARTS
With COVID-19 occupying our minds and emotions, can we expect to see books, movies, music, and art based on the traumas and anxiousness we feel? If history shows us anything, the answer would be “yes”.
Chassica Kirchhoff, Ph.D. is Assistant Curator of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the Detroit Institute of Arts.One big plague that features in her are of study is so-called “black death” – the bubonic plague that started in 1350 in Europe. Because of that plague, artist found ways to deal with the traumas.
Notable in the literary field was “The Decameron” by Giovanni Boccaccio. Written in 1353, just a few years after the plague hit northern Italy, it concerns itself with seven young women and three young men sheltering at a secluded village outside Florence seeking to pass the time telling stories while waiting out the black death. The collected novellas range from love stories to tragic tales as well as life lessons.
From painting and sculpture, Kirchhoff said horror and terror of the times found their way into works of art.
“We get an explosion of what they call “Memento Mori” or “Reminders of Death”. So, there’s a lot of emphasis on what we call the “Dance Macabre” or the “Dance of Death” these images that are intended to show the mortality of everyone – the fact that regardless of what level of society you are, whether you are a king or a pope or a peasant, everybody is subject to the laws of nature. That really exploded around the beginning of these catastrophes,” she said.
At the same time, Kirchhoff said as the arts moved forward past the plagues of the late 1300s it started to return to what was happening before – a movement towards naturalism, charity, and humanism.
“Some of the most beautiful and empathetic artworks that really underscore the humanity and the capability of the arts to engage with people on a very personal level came from this period (after the black death). For instance, the DIA has this really great Virgin and Child by Nino Pisano… which is so empathetic and has this beautiful kind of intimate gesture happening back and forth between mother and child was actually sculpted in the 1350s right at the time as Northern Italy was experiencing these events. So, we can think about the continuity of arts and also the power of the arts to really underscore these shared human experiences that are sights of solace or comfort,” she said.
Also, after the black death of the 1350s, the creation of some of the first prototype robots called “automata” that were created at the patronage of wealth people to do things such as serve as a wine fountain for banquets.
The era also helped to create more spiritual artworks for people of all income levels. While the rich were able to become patrons to artists and have works created specifically to their tastes, early printing with woodcuts of a saint or a Madonna & Child started to sold for more working class people to afford for their own homes during the medieval era.
Kirchhoff said just before the plague there was a movement among common people to develop their own conceptions of spirituality often outside the confines of the Roman Catholic Church eventually leading to Proto-Reformation movements in the 1400s and then to the Protestant Reformation in 1517.
Beyond changes in art and culture, Kirchhoff said there was also a turn toward charity, representation of the acts of mercy in a response to dealing with the collective trauma of the Black Death.
Today, Kirchhoff said you could see how some people are going back to old ideas like “The Decameron” to create their own ideas during this outbreak. For example, the galley S.J. Shrubsole in New York City has created “The Terzameron” – a 30 day exploration of stories related to their main focus on works in silver.