As the U.S. combats the spread of the novel coronavirus, health care experts continue to debate how to best protect America’s protectors during a time when they are needed most. With masks and other supplies dwindling, public health experts are now balancing the need to keep health care workers on the front lines against the need to protect medical staff from becoming patients themselves. “We don’t feel protected,” said Melissa Johnson-Camacho, University of California, Davis nurse and chief nurse representative for the California Nurses Association. “I’ve cried almost every day. I think if there were more transparency, everyone would feel a lot better.” In late February, at the UC-Davis Medical Center, one COVID-19 patient led to the self-quarantine of at least 124 nurses and health care workers, according to the National Nurses United Association. Changing protocols “It is now a very different conversation,” said Johnson-Camacho. Hospitals, including UC Davis Medical Center, are responding to the evolving situation and have reevaluated and modified their protocols, ensuring that COVID-19 patients are identified at the earliest stages of entry and that frontline workers are protected when they first encounter a suspected COVID-19 patient. But even with these new protocols, health care workers say


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