With three positive COVID-19 cases in Everett now, the job of City Public Health Nurse Sabrina Firicano has radically changed in the last 12 days.
From helping to close businesses that provide health services to monitoring the patients that have tested positive for the virus, the job has ramped up fast.
Firicano confirmed that the Department of Public Health (DPH) reported one positive case last Friday, and then two more of them on Monday from weekend testing. Cases that test positive are shared with patients directly, and then also with the Firicano, whose job it is to monitor the patients as they work their way through the sickness.
It’s much like she has done for many years with those testing for tuberculosis. However, what used to be home visits for things like that have turned to remote monitoring for COVID-19.
“It’s all remote,” she said. “We do not go to the home. We are calling or contacting them and all of the contacts they had – particularly in their household – on a daily basis and monitoring them. Patients are able to take a picture of the thermometer to log any fevers and send it to me. We also monitor their symptoms. We would also monitor everyone else in the home and if they also begin to have symptoms, we could prioritize them for testing because they are in the same home as someone that tested positive.”
In addition to monitoring them, Firicano said she looks out for their safety by making sure if they get worse, medical attention at a hospital is secured. She also makes sure they and those around them know not to go out and be in contact with the general public.
“We just ask them to stay at home and only go out if it’s medically necessary,” she said. “We can only tell them to stay and we don’t have an enforcement arm. We can’t stay outside their home to make sure they don’t go out. Most don’t feel well enough to go out anyway. It’s understood now and they all want to get better and stay better. Everyone now understands the severity and they don’t want to expose anyone else…I think now a lot of people understand the severity. Maybe a couple weeks ago everything was open and it was business as usual.”
Firicano has been part of the City’s team on the pandemic, including giving input on health issues to the Mayor’s Office and Public Works – among others. She said she is on daily calls with the DPH and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to learn of any new cases in Everett and to understand the newest ways to fight the virus.
Last Friday, she was part of the City’s team that ordered the closure of all non-essential services, which included nail salons, spas and hair salons. Those businesses had to close to the public by 6 p.m. on Friday, March 20.
“We’ve been taking a lot of calls on what businesses should do and who should close,” she said. “We tell them that non-essential businesses can work remotely if they have that capacity.”
Above all, most everywhere she goes and with everyone she speaks with, Firicano hammers home the idea of washing hands frequently, keeping the six-foot social distancing with others and staying at home as much as possible.
“We already work a lot with prevention so we put out as much information as we can in regards to keeping the disease from spreading,” she said. “People need to stay home and that’s the most important thing. We need to get the message to people that staying home will help to stop the spread and allow us to get back to normal social interactions.”