Last week, an RV appeared on my street. Why? Because my neighbor is a surgeon and wants to avoid spreading COVID-19 to his family.
Health care works are at the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the exponential spread of the virus and a lack of personal protective equipment, many of them are living in fear of carrying the virus from the hospital into their homes. For my neighbor, this fear has led to a decision to pull his RV out of storage and live in it until the pandemic subsides, in which he has no in-person connection to his wife or two young children.
Meanwhile, all but 333 UP students have been forced to leave their dorms. UP now has hundreds of spare rooms gathering dust from the lack of student activity. Many other colleges, such as Tufts University, have opened up their doors to health care workers and even to non-COVID-19 hospital patients to help relieve the unparalleled stress hospitals are experiencing.
Why not do the same at UP, for free? Twelve OHSU staff members have tested positive for COVID-19, while 56 more wait for their test results. With the virus’s long incubation and the fact that up to one in four COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic, even if all exposed OHSU staff members follow the most extreme isolation strategies at home, there is still a risk of spreading the virus to their beloved families. Due to these factors, any space that can be provided for health care workers that is completely away from families can help limit the spread of COVID-19. As Oregon’s COVID-19 cases grow to 826, anything that can strengthen social distancing is much needed.
Thus, I urge Fr. Mark Poorman and our administration to open up our dorms to health care workers. Providing a space for health care workers to feel comfortable and safe is exactly in line with UP’s values of service and leadership. In the face of this historic pandemic, we must do all we can to help our community persevere.
Madison Thibado is a junior environmental science major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.