Opinion: Living on the front line of COVID-19: Reality of global pandemic told through eyes of family member who works with coronavirus patients daily

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Photo courtesy of Marta Farber

Keeping virus at bay: Ben Farber's '21 mother, shares her protective face mask and visor at work to keep her safe.

Ben Farber '21, Staff Writer

When the clock reads 7:30 p.m., I hear my mom’s car roll into the driveway after a long day of online school and other activities. Just as I attempt to greet her, she goes directly to the medicine cabinet without saying a word to grab the thermometer and take her temperature. This is the new normal for my family.
My mom is the pharmacy manager at Detroit Receiving Hospital, located in the hardest hit county of Michigan for the COVID-19 outbreak. She has worked tireless hours to support the sick, even giving up her weekends to help the overworked and brave staff.
When the outbreak first occurred, my family had no idea what was in store for us. We did not think that it would become this big of an issue, but as the first week of orders from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer came out, we knew it would not be good. My mom came home during the first week of the state-wide closure with a paper signed by the CEO of her hospital. The paper was for if she was pulled over by law enforcement driving to and from work. It said that she was an essential worker and that she needed to travel.
As the coronavirus spread more and more, my mom started working a lot longer than she normally would have. This has been very stressful for my family for numerous reasons. For one, I am used to being around my mom a lot in the afternoon. She comes home at 8 p.m. almost every night now as opposed to her normally coming home at 5 p.m. Not having her around during the afternoon has ruined all sorts of structure in my house. We would normally eat dinner around 8 p.m. Now that she isn’t home until then, my sister and I have to fend for ourselves and figure out when and what we are going to eat.
I also feel that my mom being in the medical field has pushed me to the realization that this epidemic is much worse than people may perceive it. I see a lot of people outside walking around and hanging out with friends more than I have before the state wide shut down occurred. This stresses me out a lot because I have to hear on a daily basis about how more and more people are coming into my mom’s work who are sick.
My mom told me that her hospital has had so many deaths they are running out of room in the morgue. She told me that they had to bring refrigerated trucks to her hospital to store the excess bodies. I feel that some people are not taking into consideration the severity of this global epidemic, which in turn has led to an increase in hospitalizations and deaths.
This frustrates me because not only does it impact the sick, it impacts the whole city. My mom and the limited doctors and nurses have had to work longer hours to help save as many people as they can. The state has had to prolong the lockdown. If we don’t do our part, people like my mom and her coworkers will have to pay for putting their lives on the line.
My mom and her coworkers are working diligently to aid the front lines. My mom has done everything she can even though she does not work with patients. She has told me about the countless times she has had to fill an order and literally run full speed to the emergency room because all of the people who normally do it are too busy with other problems relating to the coronavirus.
As we go further into the shutdown, please keep in mind what the healthcare system is doing to keep us all safe and healthy. I am very proud of my mom and her hard work to help our city build back from these terrible times. Please stay safe and stay inside to help our healthcare workers.