KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Anyone who has visited a COVID-19 community testing site in the Kansas City metro likely has run into Raquel Garcia.
She’s a community health education nurse at Truman Medical Center.
“The difficult part for me is getting people to understand how serious this is,” Garcia said.
Garcia conducts COVID-19 tests in mobile units, oftentimes in areas that health leaders consider hot spots – zip codes with the highest number of COVID-19 cases.
She took time to walk 41 Action News anchor Kevin Holmes through her uniform during this pandemic.
“I have to put on the bunny suit, as I call it," Garcia said. "The bunny mask, goggles, shield, everything.”
It can be nerve wracking, on a bus that’s racked up so many miles and tested so many people. Garcia said she spends a lot of time separating fact from fiction and calming fears.
“That has been one of the most difficult things for me, seeing people shy away from things because of fear,” she said.
That fear, according to Garcia, is sometimes misdirected. A lot of people are afraid taking the test will hurt. Others would rather not know. And those who should be fearful are often fearless, causing frustration for Garcia and other health leaders.
“We’ve had somebody in our community that we went and did testing,” Garcia said. “And did testing, and they brought out their entire family from the funeral, and got tested, and still the social distancing wasn’t being followed after that. The funeral gatherings, the family, holiday gatherings. They think it was just, ‘Oh well, he had something else going on. We’re not as sick.'
"So that’s definitely been the saddest part; is that death alone wasn’t enough to scare you into social distancing? The death of your loved one wasn’t enough to keep you at home? So that’s what’s so sad and scary about it. Is that death isn’t even enough to keep people in their houses and social distancing and wearing our masks.”