Agents of Impact | March 13, 2020

Frontline healthcare workers

The team at


ImpactAlpha, March 13Sports leagues can suspend seasons. Tech workers can go remote and schools can shutter classrooms. And politicians can flinch. Doctors and nurses and other healthcare workers are facing the pandemic directly.

The virus has claimed Li Wenliang, the Wuhan doctor who first warned of the outbreak; thousands of other medical workers in China have been infected. Italian medical chief Roberto Stella died days after testing positive. One in six of the Netherlands’ 614 coronavirus patients are healthcare workers.

In Seattle, three staff members of the nursing home at the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak have been hospitalized and more than 20 healthcare workers in Washington state are under observation. Courage has consequences. 

“The doctors on the front lines of this – from Wuhan to Lombardy – have shown tremendous courage and heroism,” tweeted MSNBC’s Chris Hayes.

As they plan for possibly millions of hospitalizations, they’re rationing respirators, goggles, face masks and hand sanitizer. The COVID-19 healthcare heros are work double- and triple-shifts, sometimes in pop-up clinics and tents.

Coronavirus heroism isn’t burying your head in the sand. It’s speaking up in China, even when authorities forbid it. It’s going rogue to force more testing, as Helen Chu and other scientists in Seattle did to identify early cases. It’s calling out systemic failures that prevent many people from skipping work even when they’re sick, or getting tested or treated. Associations of doctors, nurses and hospitals are calling on President Trump to declare a national emergency.

As the pandemic threatens to bring the world to its knees, frontline healthcare workers are standing up.