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Pictures | Thu Sep 24, 2020 | 3:39pm EDT

Essential workers in the nation's capital share their coronavirus anxieties

Mairi Breen Rothman, CNM, DM, Certified Nurse-Midwife, Director, M.A.M.A.S., Inc. in Takoma Park, Maryland: "While it does feel weird to be attending births in a spacesuit, I find that when the birth is approaching, the birthing person and I both forget to notice what we're wearing, and the emotional distance that I feared would come with full PPE does not happen. In the end, we are still connected, a midwife attending an amazing person who is producing a brand new human being, and all the struggle, courage, pain, beauty and awe that this miracle entails."

REUTERS/Leah Millis

Mairi Breen Rothman, CNM, DM, Certified Nurse-Midwife, Director, M.A.M.A.S., Inc. in Takoma Park, Maryland: "While it does feel weird to be attending births in a spacesuit, I find that when the birth is approaching, the birthing person and I both...more

Mairi Breen Rothman, CNM, DM, Certified Nurse-Midwife, Director, M.A.M.A.S., Inc. in Takoma Park, Maryland: "While it does feel weird to be attending births in a spacesuit, I find that when the birth is approaching, the birthing person and I both forget to notice what we're wearing, and the emotional distance that I feared would come with full PPE does not happen. In the end, we are still connected, a midwife attending an amazing person who is producing a brand new human being, and all the struggle, courage, pain, beauty and awe that this miracle entails." REUTERS/Leah Millis
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Garrett Harris, staff at grocery store, in Washington: "Exhausted, like I'm walking into a sacrificial conveyor belt where working class lives are the commodity/product, branded, packaged for sale to the highest bidder. Many never even make it to the end of the line."

REUTERS/Leah Millis

Garrett Harris, staff at grocery store, in Washington: "Exhausted, like I'm walking into a sacrificial conveyor belt where working class lives are the commodity/product, branded, packaged for sale to the highest bidder. Many never even make it to the...more

Garrett Harris, staff at grocery store, in Washington: "Exhausted, like I'm walking into a sacrificial conveyor belt where working class lives are the commodity/product, branded, packaged for sale to the highest bidder. Many never even make it to the end of the line." REUTERS/Leah Millis
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Registered nurse Annie Rigelhaupt (L), clinical nurse Zoe Bendixen (C) and registered nurse Melody Jones in Washington. 

Annie Rigelhaupt: "Going into work, I actually feel an overwhelming sense of guilt and confusion these days. I'm 18 weeks pregnant so I'm a nurse that is considered exempt from working on COVID units ... I see the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual toll this virus is taking on my coworkers. I see how their workload has doubled, even tripled, not to mention the risks and loss they are exposed to."

Zoe Bendixen: "I feel apprehensive going into work, about whether I'll have the equipment and PPE necessary to do my job, about the potential bad outcomes for the pregnant people and newborns I take care of, about people not following stay at home, distancing guidelines."

Melody Jones: "These days, going into work you have mixed feelings, you know you have to do what you've been trained and educated to do as a nurse, but yet it's scary because of lack of PPE in some hospitals, risk of being exposed to coronavirus, wondering if you will contract it and expose friends and family. I say a prayer every day before work and hope I am protected and can continue to help our patients." 

REUTERS/Leah Millis

Registered nurse Annie Rigelhaupt (L), clinical nurse Zoe Bendixen (C) and registered nurse Melody Jones in Washington. Annie Rigelhaupt: "Going into work, I actually feel an overwhelming sense of guilt and confusion these days. I'm 18 weeks...more

Registered nurse Annie Rigelhaupt (L), clinical nurse Zoe Bendixen (C) and registered nurse Melody Jones in Washington. Annie Rigelhaupt: "Going into work, I actually feel an overwhelming sense of guilt and confusion these days. I'm 18 weeks pregnant so I'm a nurse that is considered exempt from working on COVID units ... I see the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual toll this virus is taking on my coworkers. I see how their workload has doubled, even tripled, not to mention the risks and loss they are exposed to." Zoe Bendixen: "I feel apprehensive going into work, about whether I'll have the equipment and PPE necessary to do my job, about the potential bad outcomes for the pregnant people and newborns I take care of, about people not following stay at home, distancing guidelines." Melody Jones: "These days, going into work you have mixed feelings, you know you have to do what you've been trained and educated to do as a nurse, but yet it's scary because of lack of PPE in some hospitals, risk of being exposed to coronavirus, wondering if you will contract it and expose friends and family. I say a prayer every day before work and hope I am protected and can continue to help our patients." REUTERS/Leah Millis
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Alberta Tapia, hospital cleaning staff in COVID-19 units in Tysons Corner, Virginia. Translated from Spanish: "We are asking for help for our work during difficult times with COVID-19. We are requesting special uniforms for the cleaning crew. In this way they can clean and disinfect the patient rooms with COVID-19. We would also like to ask for an acknowledgment of payment for risking our lives and the lives of our families in these difficult times."

REUTERS/Leah Millis

Alberta Tapia, hospital cleaning staff in COVID-19 units in Tysons Corner, Virginia. Translated from Spanish: "We are asking for help for our work during difficult times with COVID-19. We are requesting special uniforms for the cleaning crew. In this...more

Alberta Tapia, hospital cleaning staff in COVID-19 units in Tysons Corner, Virginia. Translated from Spanish: "We are asking for help for our work during difficult times with COVID-19. We are requesting special uniforms for the cleaning crew. In this way they can clean and disinfect the patient rooms with COVID-19. We would also like to ask for an acknowledgment of payment for risking our lives and the lives of our families in these difficult times." REUTERS/Leah Millis
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Greg Anderson poses for a portrait in his truck in Washington: "I've been to California, New York, Texas. I've been in every hot zone there is and it's very alarming to think that you could take it back to your family or a loved one. It's scary. I believe the president did the right thing by getting people home and getting out of it til it passes by. But it's very scary, you know, I have children, the other guys that drive trucks have children... All my life I never dreamed that I would see something like this happen in the United States at this time. It's a different feeling. There's a worry there that wasn't there before, a kind of a stress level of walking into a truck stop, not knowing who touched the door knob in front of you, who is standing beside you to the left or the right."

REUTERS/Leah Millis

Greg Anderson poses for a portrait in his truck in Washington: "I've been to California, New York, Texas. I've been in every hot zone there is and it's very alarming to think that you could take it back to your family or a loved one. It's scary. I...more

Greg Anderson poses for a portrait in his truck in Washington: "I've been to California, New York, Texas. I've been in every hot zone there is and it's very alarming to think that you could take it back to your family or a loved one. It's scary. I believe the president did the right thing by getting people home and getting out of it til it passes by. But it's very scary, you know, I have children, the other guys that drive trucks have children... All my life I never dreamed that I would see something like this happen in the United States at this time. It's a different feeling. There's a worry there that wasn't there before, a kind of a stress level of walking into a truck stop, not knowing who touched the door knob in front of you, who is standing beside you to the left or the right." REUTERS/Leah Millis
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Emergency nurse Britta Brennan and Arvind Suguness, MD, Pulmonary, Sleep and Critical Care, pose for a portrait in Washington. 

Britta Brennan: "The strangest thing about the practice of medicine in a pandemic is how the disease robs patients of their individuality. In the intensive care unit, patients are often rendered unconscious to allow the ventilator to breathe for them, and so those of us who work in these units often grasp at the small details of each patient to remind ourselves that they have a life beyond this illness: the color their nails are painted when they arrive, the way their hair is arranged or, if we're lucky, the stories their loved ones tell us about them."
 
Arvind Suguness: "This pandemic will be a touchstone event for my generation of medical professionals. Many years from now, when our nation has hopefully learned many lessons from the senseless loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, medical professionals will continue to recall the many ways in which we and our patients were failed by our government. We will remember the strangeness of these times and will hope that we never have to experience them again."

REUTERS/Leah Millis

Emergency nurse Britta Brennan and Arvind Suguness, MD, Pulmonary, Sleep and Critical Care, pose for a portrait in Washington. Britta Brennan: "The strangest thing about the practice of medicine in a pandemic is how the disease robs patients of...more

Emergency nurse Britta Brennan and Arvind Suguness, MD, Pulmonary, Sleep and Critical Care, pose for a portrait in Washington. Britta Brennan: "The strangest thing about the practice of medicine in a pandemic is how the disease robs patients of their individuality. In the intensive care unit, patients are often rendered unconscious to allow the ventilator to breathe for them, and so those of us who work in these units often grasp at the small details of each patient to remind ourselves that they have a life beyond this illness: the color their nails are painted when they arrive, the way their hair is arranged or, if we're lucky, the stories their loved ones tell us about them." Arvind Suguness: "This pandemic will be a touchstone event for my generation of medical professionals. Many years from now, when our nation has hopefully learned many lessons from the senseless loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, medical professionals will continue to recall the many ways in which we and our patients were failed by our government. We will remember the strangeness of these times and will hope that we never have to experience them again." REUTERS/Leah Millis
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Audrey Neff, clinical social worker in pediatrics, in Washington: "It's been challenging, but I'm glad we've been able to find new ways to help our families. Despite everything going on, I've worked to help people access needed resources which has required some creativity during the pandemic. But I feel fortunate to work with people whose highest priority has always been providing access to care for those who need it most, regardless of the circumstances."

REUTERS/Leah Millis

Audrey Neff, clinical social worker in pediatrics, in Washington: "It's been challenging, but I'm glad we've been able to find new ways to help our families. Despite everything going on, I've worked to help people access needed resources which has...more

Audrey Neff, clinical social worker in pediatrics, in Washington: "It's been challenging, but I'm glad we've been able to find new ways to help our families. Despite everything going on, I've worked to help people access needed resources which has required some creativity during the pandemic. But I feel fortunate to work with people whose highest priority has always been providing access to care for those who need it most, regardless of the circumstances." REUTERS/Leah Millis
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Nguyen "Jimmy" Minh, staff of the U.S. Postal Service for 20 years, in Washington: "I feel good, I feel comfortable, because we sanitize everything."

REUTERS/Leah Millis

Nguyen "Jimmy" Minh, staff of the U.S. Postal Service for 20 years, in Washington: "I feel good, I feel comfortable, because we sanitize everything." REUTERS/Leah Millis

Nguyen "Jimmy" Minh, staff of the U.S. Postal Service for 20 years, in Washington: "I feel good, I feel comfortable, because we sanitize everything." REUTERS/Leah Millis
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Devon Pagerly, registered nurse, in Washington: "I feel uneasy at times. Policies are rapidly changing as we learn more about how to protect ourselves and others so it's often hard to keep up while also performing our daily jobs. I never know what type of patient assignment I'll be given and what resources I'll have or be required to reuse on my shift. The most difficult part, aside from the fear of putting myself or my loved ones in danger, is the uncertainty and lack of security I feel at work, which before this pandemic never existed."

REUTERS/Leah Millis

Devon Pagerly, registered nurse, in Washington: "I feel uneasy at times. Policies are rapidly changing as we learn more about how to protect ourselves and others so it's often hard to keep up while also performing our daily jobs. I never know what...more

Devon Pagerly, registered nurse, in Washington: "I feel uneasy at times. Policies are rapidly changing as we learn more about how to protect ourselves and others so it's often hard to keep up while also performing our daily jobs. I never know what type of patient assignment I'll be given and what resources I'll have or be required to reuse on my shift. The most difficult part, aside from the fear of putting myself or my loved ones in danger, is the uncertainty and lack of security I feel at work, which before this pandemic never existed." REUTERS/Leah Millis
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Nyah Foster, security guard, in Washington. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Nyah Foster, security guard, in Washington. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Nyah Foster, security guard, in Washington. REUTERS/Leah Millis
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Dr Daniel Yohannes, pharmacy manager, at a Walgreens store in Washington. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Dr Daniel Yohannes, pharmacy manager, at a Walgreens store in Washington. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Dr Daniel Yohannes, pharmacy manager, at a Walgreens store in Washington. REUTERS/Leah Millis
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