Two doctors, one in his forties and the other with decades of experience fighting pandemics, cut down by the novel coronavirus.
As TPM first reported early Sunday morning, the cases mark the first instances of emergency room doctors infected with coronavirus.
Both are experienced physicians, and both went from health to being in critical condition — a life or death state — in a matter of days.
They are on opposite sides of the country — one in Paterson, New Jersey and the other in the outbreak’s swelling epicenter in Washington state, the city of Kirkland.
The Washington ER doctor was admitted Friday morning to EvergreenHealth hospital, which has borne the brunt of new cases since they began to appear in the area last month.
That came after the physician — in his 40s with a family — showed up at the ER unit Tuesday evening with mild symptoms, the Seattle Times reported. The doctor was given a test on Tuesday that came back negative, and was sent home.
But over the next several days, what had first seemed to be mild symptoms progressed into a far more serious case, requiring immediate hospitalization.
The doctor returned on Friday morning, and was admitted to the hospital. He is now being treated by his colleagues and tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Saturday evening. He is in critical condition, in isolation and on a ventilator.
The Paterson, New Jersey doctor — James Pruden — was the head of his hospital’s emergency preparedness department.
Pruden agreed to be identified “to encourage others to come forward and get tested,” Kevin Slavin, CEO of St. Joseph’s Health — the hospital where Pruden works — said in a statement.
Pruden was first admitted on March 6, reportedly after coming down with “cold-like symptoms.”
This pandemic wasn’t Pruden’s first brush with mass illness. He reportedly helped lead the hospital’s response to the 2009 swine flu outbreak, and managed preparations during the 2014 Ebola scare.
The doctor was giving interviews to local media outlets up until his hospitalization.
“Our clinical teams are well-trained to use all of the tools and techniques available to effectively manage potential cases,” Pruden said in a story published on the day of his hospitalization.