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    Is It Time to Stop Clapping for Health Care Workers? An Organizer Thinks So

    On Thursday nights, Britons bang pots and pans and let out hearty cheers of support for doctors and nurses who care for coronavirus patients and for other essential workers amid the pandemic.

    But the organizer behind the weekly ritual says it’s time for it to end, pointing to concerns that the act of recognizing the workers had become politicized.

    Annemarie Plas, who started #ClapForOurCarers, said in an interview with the BBC on Friday that next week’s national applause, the 10th, should be the last. It’s unclear if the nightly clapping in other cities, including New York, where it began in late March and continues to go strong in some neighborhoods, will come to an end as well.

    “I think that would be beautiful to be the end of the series, to maybe then stop and move to an annual moment,” Ms. Plas said. “I feel like this had its moment and then we can, after that, continue to something else.”

    Ms. Plas said that she believed the ritual was “slowly shifting” and that other opinions had “started to rise to the surface,” referring to some criticism the movement has received. An opinion article in The Independent questioned the point of applauding if health care workers were underpaid. And some National Health Service workers have said they felt “stabbed in the back” by people who ignore public health guidelines.

    To date, the United Kingdom has reported more than 250,000 coronavirus infections and over 36,000 deaths. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plans for reopening the country have been met with criticism and some confusion.

    While Britons have shown their appreciation for health care workers, Ms. Plas said, it’s now time for people in power to “reward and give them the respect they deserve.”

    “I think to maintain the positive impact that it’s had so far, it’s best to stop at its peak,” she told the BBC.

    Ms. Plas did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday.

    Credit…Justin Tallis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    Clapping for essential workers isn’t unique to Britain. Similar daily or weekly events have taken place in Italy, Spain and across the United States.

    Every evening at 7 in New York City, where more than 202,000 cases and over 20,000 deaths have been reported, cheers of support for essential workers can be heard across all five boroughs.

    Candi Obrentz, an entrepreneur who lives in Midtown Manhattan, regularly shares clips of the nightly applause from her neighborhood on Twitter.

    “If I’m home, I kind of hang out the window, and if I’m on the street, I stop wherever I am to participate,” Ms. Obrentz said on Saturday.

    She said she understood Ms. Plas’s point of view but disagreed.

    “I feel like just the gesture in itself is so important for our psyche,” she said, adding that the very act helped bring people together.

    • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

      Updated May 20, 2020

      • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

        Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

      • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

        Over 38 million people have filed for unemployment since March. One in five who were working in February reported losing a job or being furloughed in March or the beginning of April, data from a Federal Reserve survey released on May 14 showed, and that pain was highly concentrated among low earners. Fully 39 percent of former workers living in a household earning $40,000 or less lost work, compared with 13 percent in those making more than $100,000, a Fed official said.

      • How can I protect myself while flying?

        If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

      • Is ‘Covid toe’ a symptom of the disease?

        There is an uptick in people reporting symptoms of chilblains, which are painful red or purple lesions that typically appear in the winter on fingers or toes. The lesions are emerging as yet another symptom of infection with the new coronavirus. Chilblains are caused by inflammation in small blood vessels in reaction to cold or damp conditions, but they are usually common in the coldest winter months. Federal health officials do not include toe lesions in the list of coronavirus symptoms, but some dermatologists are pushing for a change, saying so-called Covid toe should be sufficient grounds for testing.

      • Should I wear a mask?

        The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

      • What should I do if I feel sick?

        If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

      • How can I help?

        Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities using a numbers-based system, has a running list of nonprofits working in communities affected by the outbreak. You can give blood through the American Red Cross, and World Central Kitchen has stepped in to distribute meals in major cities.

    “Even if a health care worker isn’t hearing the clapping because they are at work and not hearing it, I do think it reminds the reveler, the clapper, that this is real and it’s still happening,” she said. “There’s no reason why we can’t, for two minutes every night, connect with each other.”

    Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, said he thought that the applause should continue and that it had united communities with health care workers.

    “We’re here to do our jobs always,” Dr. Glatter said. “We don’t need the clapping. We’re here to take care of our patients, but it’s certainly a very positive feeling.”

    Dr. Armando Castro, the chairman of surgery at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills, a hospital in Queens, said that the first time he experienced the clapping it nearly brought him to tears but that the practice should come to a close.

    “It does have to come to its natural end,” Dr. Castro said. “And when that happens, it’s not going to mean that we are not appreciated and the work that we do and continue to do as health care workers is taken for granted in any way.”


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