[OPINION] New development in the US war against COVID-19 brings hope, relief to our Filipino nurses fighting on the frontlines

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris publicly receive jabs of the COVID-19 vaccine to set an example that it is safe. | White House photos

JUST as the Philippines has vaccinated zero health care workers, these frontliners have been battling fatigue, depression and stress as they risk their lives to help save the lives of fellow Filipinos amid the continued threat of COVID-19. But in contrast, our Filipino nurses here in the United States can now see the light at the end of the tunnel.

A headline from the Associated Press (AP) reveals such optimism: “Pandemic’s deadliest month in U.S. ends with signs of progress.”

As the AP reported: “The U.S. death toll has climbed past 440,000, with over 95,000 lives lost in January alone. Deaths are running at about 3,150 per day on average, down slightly by about 200 from their peak in mid-January.”

However, the AP wrote based on facts and data: “But as the calendar turned to February on Monday, the number of Americans in the hospital with COVID-19 fell below 100,000 for the first time in two months. New cases of infection are averaging about 148,000 day, falling from almost a quarter-million in mid-January. And cases are trending downward in all 50 states.”

What a difference genuine pro-people leadership makes in saving lives! Despite the continued threats of new strains/variants of the virus, the mere fact that decisions of the new leadership of the United States under President Joe Biden are based on science and facts, we feel confident we are on track to defeating the virus and saving more lives.

For one, public safety measures like wearing masks and physical distancing have been de-politicized and have been implemented better and consistently across the nation. There has been a “cultural shift,” a rational acceptance that compliance with these safety measures has nothing to do with politics and has everything to do with defeating the virus so that we could all go back faster to normal life. Best of all, the new President of the United States is leading by example.

And the vaccine! AP reported on the progress we are making when people started getting vaccinated. “After a slow start, the vaccination drive that began in mid-December is picking up the pace. More than 32.2 million doses have been administered in the U.S., according to the CDC. That is up from 16.5 million on the day President Joe Biden took office, Jan. 20,” the report said.

However, there is a challenge when it comes to caregivers who care for the elderly in nursing homes. “Researchers looked at more than 11,000 nursing homes and other such facilities that had at least one vaccination clinic between mid-December and mid-January.

While 78% of residents got at least one shot, only 37.5% of staff members did. Surveys suggest some nursing home workers are skeptical of the shots’ effectiveness and don’t think viruses spread easily from them to the people they care for,” AP reported.

This news is important to many Filipinos working on the frontlines of the war against COVID-19. I have written how the lives of so many Filipinos working in the health care industry in the U.S. have been disproportionately impacted, especially our nurses.

“Filipino and Filipino American nurses are dying from COVID-19 at disproportionately high rates, accounting for more than 30% of the 205 U.S. nurses who have died, though the group makes up just 4 percent of the total nurse workforce”, according to The Mercury News.

More than two-thirds of nurse deaths in California are among Filipino Americans, the Mercury News reported in October. “California, where about 20% of nurses identify as Filipino, they account for 11 of the 16 COVID-19 deaths in the profession, or nearly 70%”, according to the California Nurses Association.

Why is this happening and what can be done?
(To be continued)

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Gel Santos Relos has been in news, talk, public service and educational broadcasting since 1989 with ABS-CBN and is now serving the Filipino audience using different platforms, including digital broadcasting, and print, and is working on a new public service program for the community. You may contact her through email at gelrelos@icloud.com, or send her a message via Facebook at Facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos.

Gel Santos Relos

Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com and www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos

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