As a paramedic who sees the daily carnage of COVID-19, Kate Bergen worries about the severity and speed of the disease.
What also scares her: the calls from the public to return to normal, undermining the seriousness of the pandemic.
As a 38-year-old mother, she fears she will bring home the virus to her 20-month-old, Maverick, and Jase, 3.
The workers dealing with the virus head on can see people go from being asymptomatic to dead in a matter of days, Bergen said. Many of those workers are women, some are her friends and all are working tirelessly.
ATLANTIC CITY — Yadira Colon filled out and sent in her 2020 U.S. Census form the day after …
Inspired by her peers, Bergen, of Absecon, painted portraits of them as part of a “We Can Do It” series that recognizes those on the front lines of the pandemic.
“The first one I started was a paramedic in a p100 air filtration mask, and it started from a photo I took of myself,” Bergen said. “With this whole pandemic, I wanted to bring to light all the other essential workers out there.”
Tricia Carey, 52, of Little Egg Harbor Township, purchased the print of the paramedic in the mask. The EMS provider of 27 years was thrilled to see a strong woman portrayed in a field that is typically dominated by men.
“I loved how it represented women,” Carey said. “I believe it (the stay-at-home message) is the best way for us to quell the spread of the virus.”
Bergen’s second painting was of a Chinese nurse. Bergen chose that subject because the nurse has experienced discrimination because of her ethnicity and the fact that some people have referred to the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus.”
Some people will spend a small fortune on the right pair of sneakers.
“She’s a great nurse, very kind and compassionate,” Bergen said. “She’s a single mom, so she’s struggling to take care of her kids during this time, and then they have to deal with this on top of it.”
Alexa Yabut-Corso, 28, of Barnegat Township, who bought the print of the nurse, is a Filipino nurse at an acute care hospital. She said she and her husband, who is also a nurse and is half Filipino, half Italian, have experienced discrimination since the start of the pandemic in the U.S.
“Before COVID-19 hit the United States, many of my patients who heard the news about what was going on in China had stated snarky remarks about Asians, Chinese in general,” Yabut-Corso said. “The amount of times I was asked if I was Chinese, knew about COVID or if I ate bats or unusual animals was starting to get rather uncomfortable.”
That is why Bergen’s painting resonated so deeply with her. She said the painting highlighted the Asian communities that are facing discrimination, especially those working in health care.
Bergen, a South Jersey paramedic for nine years, said her work follows in the footsteps of the iconic image of Rosie the Riveter, a World War II marketing image used to draw women to the assembly lines as part of the war effort.
There is a connection between that moment and what is happening now. Roughly one in three jobs deemed essential during the pandemic is held by a woman, including grocery store cashiers (72%) and nurses (91%).
There’s also evidence that the emotional and psychological stress on frontline workers is affecting more women. In research published in the Journal of American Medical Association, health care workers in Wuhan, China, particularly women, reported emotional and psychological stress from being on the front lines of the pandemic.
So far, Bergen has made four paintings, but she plans on completing 15. Bergen said she wants to depict a truck driver, a mail carrier, an environmental scientist, a custodian, a construction worker, a Wawa employee, as well as those in other medicine-related professions. The goal is to highlight all the people who are working through the COVID-19 pandemic and recognize the workers both in and outside the medical field.
Another goal of her art: Motivate the public to do their part and follow social distancing guidelines.
“Painting and art have always been my outlets. We are dealing with a lot of stress right now, and I wanted to convey the stay-at-home regulation to the public,” Bergen said.
Bergen regularly shares updates on her business Facebook page. The most recent print she has done is of a truck driver to shine light onto the workers who are keeping stores supplied with essential groceries. Prints sell for $35, and 10% of every sale goes to a COVID-19 charity of the buyer’s choice.
The AtlantiCare Physician Group (APG) Primary Care and Urgent Care is offering COVID-19 testing to individuals who meet Centers for Disease Control's guidelines.
Testing is in Galloway, Atlantic County; Little Egg Harbor, Ocean County, and Berlin, Camden County, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., weather-permitting. Testing requires an appointment and a prescription from an APG Primary Care or Urgent Care provider after being seen in the office or through an AtlantiCare Telehealth visit.
Individuals can schedule a virtual Primary Care or Urgent Care appointment by calling the AtlantiCare Access Center at 1-888-569-1000 and learn more by visiting www.atlanticare.org/telehealth.
AtlantiCare also offers a 24/7 COVID-19 hotline for those who have questions about coronavirus. The number is 1-888-ATLANTICARE (1-888-285-2684).
Hamilton Mall, parking lot, 4403 E Black Horse Pike, Mays Landing
Testing began April 9 for symptomatic healthcare workers and first responders by appointment. Going forward, officials will provide testing by appointment for county residents who are symptomatic for COVID-19 and have a doctor’s script.
The Hamilton Mall COVID-19 drive-thru testing site will be open for the public Tuesday and Thursday It will be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on those days.
A drive-thru testing site at Bader Field and a walk-up location in the Showboat Hotel Atlantic City surface parking lot could be operational beginning the week of April 27, according to Mayor Marty Small Sr. Find out more here.
Cape May County
Drive-thru testing sites in the county have not been released. Those who want to be tested must have an appointment, be a CompleteCare Health Network patient or a Cape May County resident.
Cape Regional Urgent Care
Cape Regional Urgent Care is now testing in all locations, according to a post on their Facebook page. Please call 609-465-6364 and press option #2 to schedule an appointment at the Cape May Court House, Wildwood or Marmora locations.
CompleteCare Health Network
The Cape May County Department of Health and CompleteCare Health Network are partnering to open a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site, open consecutive Wednesdays starting April 22, by appointment only.
Testing will only be for CompleteCare patients, as well as Cape May County residents, who are sick with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath and that meet a certain criteria, according to a news release.
Symptomatic first responders who are residents of the county will also be given priority testing.
In order to receive testing, individuals can go to CompleteCareNJ.org/COVID19 or call 609-465-0258 and request to be screened.
Rowan College of South Jersey Cumberland Campus, 3322 College Drive, Vineland
A testing site will be open by appointment and for symptomatic Cumberland County residents only.