We owe a huge thanks to the heroes on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic

As the world faces a global pandemic, there are millions of people we all should be thanking—the doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel who are on the front line of the war against COVID-19.

While many of us are trying to figure out how to stay away from people as much as possible to avoid illness, these folks are gearing up for battle and running into the fire. People who work in clinics, hospitals, and care facilities are the courageous heroes of this worldwide story, knowingly putting themselves at risk to save lives.


In China, it was a young physician—an opthamologist named Li Wenliang—who first sounded the alarm in Wuhan about the virus. He was also among the first wave of people to die from it. Liu Zhiming, a neurosurgeon who was the director of Wuhan's Wuchang Hospital and who led its coronavirus response, also succumbed to the virus. Doctors there have worked tirelessly to treat an outbreak of an illness that none of them had seen before, some dying of fatigue and exhaustion as well as the infection.

Doctors in current outbreak epicenters, such as northern Italy, are working round the clock as hospitals are overwhelmed with critically ill patients. In some places, they are having to choose which patients they will treat with the equipment they have, and which will be left to perish—a horrifying position to be put in, but reality when there are more patients than respirators.

Iran has announced that the country will designate medical staff who have died from COVID-19 as "martyrs," giving them the same honor as slain soldiers.

Nurses, who rarely get the recognition they should for the vital work they do already, are also making sacrifices above and beyond the call of duty. A nurse named Alessia Bonari from Tuscany, Italy shared a selfie on Instagram that illustrated what doctors and nurses are going through in a country where more than 10,000 people have been diagnosed and more than 800 have died of the virus.

Her face chafed from the protective mask she's been wearing, Bonari shared her feelings of fear, exhaustion, and determination as she and her colleagues wage war with the outbreak:

"I am afraid because the mask might not stick properly to the face, or I might have accidentally touched myself with dirty gloves, or maybe the lenses don't cover my eyes fully and something slipped by.

I am physically tired because the protective devices hurt, the lab coat makes me sweat and once I'm dressed I can no longer go to the bathroom or drink for six hours.

I am psychologically tired, as are all my colleagues who have been in the same condition for weeks, but this will not prevent us from doing our job as we have always done. I will continue to take care of my patients because I am proud and in love with my job.

What I ask anyone who is reading this post is not to frustrate the effort we are making, to be selfless, to stay at home and thus protect those who are most fragile."

We're just beginning to see the strain this virus will place on health workers here in the U.S. In Kirkland, WA, EvergreenHealth hospital went from no coronavirus cases two weeks ago to being swarmed by more than 40 suspected or confirmed cases of the virus in one night.

The New York Times described the sobering reality in the Washington hospital:

"Caregivers who had been sent home into quarantine had to be called back to work to face the overwhelming task at hand. Engineers spent late nights scrambling to overhaul rooms so that contaminated air could not escape. Sanitation and janitorial crews struggled to swab down rooms where even a trace of the virus could infect the next patient. Supplies were so strained that nurses turned to menstrual pads to buttress the padding in their helmets."

And yet, manager of trauma services Barb Jensen told the Times that they've not had any issues with staff not wanting to come in to work. "We've had staff calling and say, 'If you need me, I'm available.'"

Just as we praise soldiers, firefighters, and police officers for running toward danger, we should praise everyone working in medicine right now for what they are doing—or what they may soon have to do. They are the ones who have to face this threat head-on, being exposed far more than any of the rest of us, and saving those of us who fall critically ill from it.

Thank you, doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel who are on the front lines of this pandemic. You are heroes daily anyway, but you deserve an extra dose of appreciation as we battle this new enemy.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Image by 5540867 from Pixabay

Figuring out what to do for a mom on Mother's Day can be a tricky thing. There's the standard flowers or candy, of course, and taking her out to a nice brunch is a fairly universal winner. But what do moms really want?

Speaking from experience—my kids range from age 12 to 20—a lot depends on the stage of motherhood. What I wanted when my kids were little is different than what I want now, and I'm sure when my kids are grown and gone I'll want something different again.

We asked our readers to share what they want for Mother's Day, and while the answers were varied, there were some common themes that emerged.

Moms of young kids want a break.

When your kids are little, motherhood is relentless. Precious and adorable, yes. Wonderful and rewarding, absolutely. But it's a LOT. And it's a lot all the fricking time.

Most moms I know would love the gift of alone time, either away at a hotel or Airbnb or in their own home with no one else around. Time alone is a priceless commodity at this stage, especially if it comes with someone else taking care of cleaning, making sure the kids are fed and safe and occupied, doing the laundry, etc.

This is especially true after more than a year of pandemic living, where we moms have spent more time than usual at home with our offspring. While in some ways that's been great, again, it's a lot.

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Courtesy of CeraVe
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"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

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