A medical examiner in Thailand has died from the disease, one of only two healthcare providers claimed by COVID-19. It highlights the risk faced by all of those who come into contact with these patients. While the authors reinforced that it is possible the decedent contracted the virus outside of work, they also state the at the time of infection, community spread was not common in Thailand. Nonetheless, as more is learned about how the virus is transmitted, especially from asymptomatic, pre-symptomatic, and minimally symptomatic patients, caution is prudent.
Mike Lanotte, the director of the New York State Funeral Directors Association, is quoted thus in an NPR story: “We have seen funeral directors who’ve become ill as a result from getting the virus.” Whether this was from a decedent or the family members thereof, it still remains true that these folks are at an increased risk. And that in an ideal world, PPE and precautions would be able to be taken in these settings. Especially in the setting of overwhelmed systems with folks who are experiencing increased stress and long work hours.
I can’t say it any better than Angelique Corthals, a pathologist from CUNY’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, who was quoted in one of the news reports. “We need to take care of the people who take care of the dead.”