They Died Saving Others From COVID. Will Anyone Count Them? 紐時賞析/她用2500條推特 悼抗疫醫護
Dr. Claire Rezba is exhausted from counting the dead.
An anesthesiologist in Virginia, Rezba, 41, has spent the past year running a Twitter feed that memorializes American health care workers who have died of COVID-19. So far, she has published more than 2,500 tributes to the doctors, emergency room nurses, respiratory therapists and mental health counselors cut down in their prime. Although she knows there are at least a thousand other deaths that remain unrecognized, Rezba plans to discontinue the project at the end of March.
"I'd like to spend some time with my children," said Rezba, who devotes most evenings after work to scouring GoFundMe pages, Facebook memorials and online death notices. "But I'd also like to stop thinking about death all the time."Many Americans share that sentiment.
But a year since the first recorded coronavirus death of a health care worker — a hospital custodian in Rochester, New York, who died March 17 — those on the front lines are finding it hard to move on.
Their fury is rooted in the weak government response last spring to the pandemic, including the scarcity of personal protective equipment that left workers vulnerable to infection.
Their ire has been compounded by the recent relaxation of mask mandates in some states, a move that experts say is premature.
"We're not out of the woods yet so it just feels disrespectful to medical workers and devalues the sacrifices we've made," said Dr. Erica Bial, a pain specialist in Massachusetts who runs the COVID-19 Physicians Memorial, a Facebook group dedicated to doctors felled by the coronavirus.
The number of medical workers who lost their lives to the virus over the past year remains elusive. The best estimate comes from a joint project by Kaiser Health News and The Guardian newspaper that has documented more than 3,500 health care worker deaths in the United States since last March.
Rezba is hoping her work can find a more permanent home so that the sacrifices are not forgotten. "Each health care worker death is a tragedy compounded," she said. "It represents the private pain of a sister, father or daughter taken in their prime, and the loss of expertise that impacts the colleagues and patients left behind."
"They're losing a year to a year and a half of their career that they're not going to get back," Jonathan Stafford, New York City Ballet's artistic director, said. "It's not like they can make it up on the back end. Everyone eventually is going to age out."
Ballet dancers need mental toughness to prevail in ordinary times. But this collective timeout is unlike anything they have experienced in their careers.
"It has to be brutal — physically and psychologically," Mikhail Baryshnikov said in an email. He recalled having "tough tests" — times in his career when injuries had forced him to take off a few months. "But it's hard to imagine what it's been like for dancers sidelined by the pandemic."
"I can't imagine any point in my career being dealt this card," said Wendy Whelan, the associate artistic director of City Ballet where she was a leading dancer for 30 years. "You are taking up steps — up, up, up, up, up — and you don't want to get knocked off of any one of those steps at any point. Then, when you get there, you want to hang on to it as long as you can."
Stafford said he wasn't worried about dancers regaining their athleticism and movement quality; he even thinks their technique will be better, a result of working more slowly and focusing on the basics. But it will take time — months of classes and then rehearsals — to get them back to where they were last March.
Dancers are practical; this year has shown that they are also incredibly resilient. While the shutdown has meant time away from performing, it has also given dancers an opportunity to experience life beyond their art, and many have relished the pause. They are taking college classes or teaching or having surgery they have put off, knowing there is time to recover. There are lots of babies on the way.