Most of the world is doing the right thing by social distancing, self-isolating, or quarantining because of the coronavirus. However, health care workers (and many other professions) don't have that luxury. They're on the front lines, taking care of us all.
So we asked all health care workers in the BuzzFeed Community to share pictures and tell us what it's actually like to be on the front lines during this pandemic.
Health care workers aren't just doctors and nurses. They include all types of people, from technicians to EMTs, the custodial staff, and everyone in between. Here are some of their heart-wrenching responses.
1. "This is how my face looks after being in my patient's room for about 45 minutes. Most of my patients are on life support, so I am needed at their bedsides. If we run out of PPE (personal protective equipment), my patients will literally die without my care.
2. "I'm an ICU RN. I just spent 13 hours with eight patients on ventilators. By the end of my shift, there were only five."
3. "I've seen patients die while FaceTiming with their families because visitors are not allowed. I'm honored to be the one who gets to hold their hands, but I'm saddened that it has to be gowned, gloved, and shielded from them during their final moments.
4. "I'm in the middle of a 60-hour workweek. We're all so tired."
5. "I’m terrified. I have two small children at home, so I take my clothes off in the garage and head straight to a hot shower. I have to bypass my kids when I come home from work. I will not touch anything or anyone until I scrub my entire body clean.
6. "In this photo, there are different-colored dots that we get every day and have to wear on our badges. They confirm that we don't (yet) have a fever.
7. "I'm an ICU RN. One of the hardest things about this illness is that these patients are critically ill, and we can't let them have visitors because it's too dangerous. If you get this illness, you will most likely die alone, surrounded by staff in isolation gear instead of your family.
8. "We've been reusing a LOT of what should be single-use or single-patient items, and we're saving them in brown paper bags for days on end. I’ve been decorating the bags as a means to try to stay positive and bring a little color to a dark situation.
9. "We’re running out of N95 respirators. So we’re taking a page out of the Star Wars book of facial protection. If you’re wondering if we can breathe and/or speak in these, the answer is barely."
10. "I took this selfie after 12 hours of sitting outside in the 90-degree Florida heat, screening every employee who tried to enter the building."
11. "The unknown is why this is all so stressful. By the end of this 12-hour shift, I was sweating like a pig and wanted to cry because of how overwhelmed I was.
12. "Drained. Not enough supplies. No COVID-19 test for employees at our hospital."
13. "I took this picture today because it was exciting that someone donated us masks. This one is reusable and can be washed. Other than this mask, I don’t have any personal protective equipment.
14. "Working on the front lines right now means standing in a patient's room, sweating profusely underneath all the layers, and fighting for their life.
15. "I am an ICU nurse on a COVID unit at one of the largest hospitals in the state. We're given one mask with one paper bag and are told to reuse it until it falls apart.
16. "I am a pediatric nurse in Atlanta. Due to the shortage of PPE, we have to reuse things. People have taken so many masks, gowns, and gloves that we have to hide them to protect ourselves in the coming weeks and months.
17. "I really hope this will be over soon so people in my nursing home can see their loved ones again, or at the very least eat in the same room together.
18. "I'm a nurse anesthesiologist. I have to wear this respirator all day, every day. I'm so thankful to have these supplies, as so many of my colleagues do not."
19. "This is my amazing collection tent crew. We’re here for our community and our patients six days a week.
20. "I work in a cardiac ICU that has turned into a COVID-19 unit. We have shortages of medications and supplies, all the nurses are discouraged and exhausted, and our patients are so sick that many of them are dying."
21. "We are motivated to come to work, yet deeply saddened by the little PPE we are given. We are often distributed only one mask and one gown for the WHOLE shift.
22. "My biggest fear is getting someone sick, though my hands are dry and cracked from washing them all the time. I feel guilty going to work and coming home to my beautiful family. I would never forgive myself if I got them sick.
Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.