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The numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths from the novel coronavirus are mind-blowing, even to the most seasoned health-care professionals.

But as a surgeon, when I see one patient, even a healthy one, I see a crowd bigger than in any photo you’ll see on any television news show or online.

Health-care providers have been asking—begging—people to stay home while we go to work. In the case of this virus, each infected individual has the potential to infect three other people.

Many of us are wearing full-on protective gear in settings where we’d normally wear traditional scrubs and maybe some cute clogs or a funky scrub hat or pin. Those of us who treat children rarely wear white coats so as not to scare them. In fact, many of us wear bright clothes, silly ties or bright-colored shoes.

Now we’re attending to children in hazmat suits. They’re terrified. So are we.

Many folks have offered to help us. We are grateful. For those offering support to healthcare workers, we say this: We will go to work for you, but please stay at home for us. Think of the millions of people you can help by doing just that.

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Nina Shapiro is professor of otolaryngology at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Print Headline: We work, you stay home

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