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Original watercolor painting of Dr. Li Wenliang, the COVID-19 whistleblower. He passed on Feb 7, 2020, after contracting COVID-19. Government officials had previously censored his attempts to warn others about a virus.

COVID-19 and the plight of healthcare workers

Unmasked censorship

The world decried the Chinese government for forcing Dr. Li Wenliang to confess to “spreading false rumors” and disrupting social order. It was blatant censorship. Open and shut case.

written and illustrated by
E. Rosalie Li

Note: To my knowledge, I am not related to Dr. Li Wenliang.

It was blatant censorship. Open and shut case.

Dr Li Wenliang was not the first healthcare worker silenced either. Although the US often admonishes other countries for treatment of workers, we seem unable to look inward at our errors.

Now, states must compete — along with other countries — for masks made in the US. Masks made here are leaving the country.

Healthcare workers face circumstances previously unthinkable.

The White House Task Force assures us this has been remedied, that things are well.

No one has forcibly made the medical community stop speaking. That much is true, although hospitals have reportedly warned staff not to publicly complain about the lack of equipment under threat of termination.

Translation: “Don’t tell anyone you’re being abused or we’ll take your livelihood.”

The White House has sown doubt about the reality of the situation. The troubling aspect is that this can be as effective as censorship.

The Chinese government chose “spreading false rumors” in its accusation against Dr Li, but that bears a worryingly similar sentiment to “hoax” or reassurances that “things are looking very good.” When it discredits workers such that their voices are no longer believed, the outcome is quite similar.

Just as Dr. Li died alongside fellow Chinese citizens, American healthcare workers will die if we don’t fight for them. Then, we will suffer in their absence.

The already dangerous situation continues to grow worse.

For COVID-19, the absence of symptoms offers no assurance that you don’t have the virus. The asymptomatic transmission appears commonplace, and the virus spreads like wildfire.

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Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

Professionals must treat in fear that tomorrow is the day they run out of protective equipment and circumstances deliver them to the Coronavirus.

If we do not act to help them, how can we ask for their help with any integrity?

We can choose to believe the words that drip from the mouths of politicians, but it doesn’t change reality. Medical professionals cannot march through the streets because their work is too needed.

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Photo by JC Gellidon on Unsplash

To save us, they need supplies; to get them supplies, we must listen and amplify their words in the political arena. We cannot accept verbal assurances. We must be their advocates as they have been ours.

Healthcare workers are the legs upon which society stands. We can do little if we are not well, and if we look away from them now, society will drop to its knees.

A study published on Mar 27, 2020, polled 1100 infection preventionists from 50 states. It showed 12% had received emergency supplies from the federal government. While some locations in the US are hot zones, shortages exist nearly everywhere.

Less than 1% responded with “have plenty” regarding masks. The survey revealed more had received help from DIY hand-sewing efforts than from the federal government.

Hello, World. It’s us, the USA, and we are not OK.

Until no more healthcare workers contradict politicians assuring us all is well, I implore you to magnify the voices of those who would care for you if you needed them, even now.

It won’t matter if you catch SARS-CoV-2 or if you’re high risk. Whether it’s a car accident, an allergic reaction, or a cancer diagnosis, providers will need these same supplies to treat you.

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Photo by Luis Melendez on Unsplash

Magnify their voices; make the truth too loud to ignore.

Public health biologist studying at Johns Hopkins | Science writer & artist | Views reflect me alone | Subscribe @

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