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Jefferson County Nurse Speaks Out on the Fight Against COVID-19

Published: Dec. 16, 2020 at 5:00 AM CST
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FAIRFIELD, Iowa (KYOU) - As the pandemic rages throughout Iowa and the U.S., hardships have been numerous. But some of the hardest hit have been frontline healthcare workers.

Jefferson County Public Health’s Administrator and Nurse, Chris Estle, describes 2020 as “exhausting. It has been probably the most challenging year of my career.”

For nine months, she and health care workers all across the nation have faced challenge after challenge. And for the last few months, Iowa has seen an increase in those challenges.

Chris says “it’s taken a long time for Jefferson county to see those increases in numbers. That just shows you how long it takes communicable diseases to spread through a population.”

The lateness of COVID-19 arriving here combined with quarantine fatigue is a bad combination - and it’s one that’s putting people in the hospital.

But Chris says people still aren’t wearing masks and social distancing.

“You see pictures of people in a hospital...if it’s not your family you’re not tuned into it. And that’s the frustration.”

Chris notes the frustration continues with a lack of communication from the federal and state levels.

“Stuff comes down from the feds and goes down to the states. Sometimes it’s circumvented and doesn’t go through the proper channels. That to us at the local level can be very very frustrating.”

For example, when the federal government gave supplies to local nursing homes without alerting local public health.

And Chris says while they’ve tried to be proactive, most times they’ve had to be reactive. Like when Test Iowa, Jefferson County Public Health “heard it at the same time that everyone else did. The Governor was just done speaking and our phones were ringing.”

And now, as Southeast Iowa could be heading into the hardest few months yet, health care workers are really feeling the effects of a ten month, ongoing pandemic.

“We are all tired. I think when I say that I say that collective for all of us that work in healthcare: whether you’re a direct patient care provider or you work in a business office: we are tired. We are doing the best we can to get through this...but we’re tired. This has been a very very long response.”

Even with Jefferson County getting the Moderna vaccine soon, it will still be several months before the herd immunity of 70-percent is reached. In the meantime, Chris recommends sticking to the C-D-C guidelines, which can be found at C-D-C-dot-gov.

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