One year later: Local professor recounts COVID pandemic in U.S and Canada
Published Sunday, February 14, 2021 2:40PM EST Last Updated Sunday, February 14, 2021 4:10PM EST
WINDSOR, ONT. -- A University of Windsor nursing professor has witnessed the COVID-19 pandemic both sides of the border.
During the early onset of COVID-19, Kate Kemplin left for the front lines of one of the hardest hit areas in the United States — New York City.
“One of the first and only times I’ve seen that kind of community cohesion in trying to conquer something that was really dangerous and often fatal,” says Kemplin.
The 41-year-old was the chief nursing officer and deputy director of the Ryan Larkin Presbyterian Field hospital.
The virus was spreading quickly.
According to Kemplin, at the beginning of March there was one confirmed case.
When she arrived later that month, there were nearly 18,000 cases.
“So by the time my advance team hit the ground in New York I believe there were about 37,000 cases and at one point in March and April 2020 they were tripling daily,” Kemplin says.
She returned home in June, expecting Ontario to be in a better position than that state she was leaving.
“Now I’m actually pretty embarrassed because the response from the Ontario Government lacks a lot of discipline and it’s incomprehensible at times,” Kemplin says.
From 2006 to 2008, Kemplin ran mass vaccinations for American soldiers overseas.
She questions the Ford Government’s rollout plan of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“If you don’t have enough vaccines to curb the spread of this virus why is the province reopening in any area?” Kemplin asks.
Windsor-Essex County and Chatham-Kent will move into the red zone Tuesday, allowing for a partial reopening of non-essential businesses.
“By no means is this wide open. We have to be cautious, super cautious. We saw what happened before and we don’t want it to happen again,” Premier Doug Ford stated last week.
Kemplin is back teaching at the University of Windsor.
The Owen Sound Native has heard from frontline workers who continue to fight the coronavirus.
“Nurses are hurting there isn’t even a word or adjective that can really describe what it’s like to be a nurse in practice now,” Kemplin says.
Kemplin tells CTV Windsor the emotional trauma nurses are going through will have long term effects.
“We are likely going to lose a significant portion of nurses from the profession over this,” she says.