© 2022 All Rights reserved WUSF
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
News about coronavirus in Florida and around the world is constantly emerging. It's hard to stay on top of it all but Health News Florida and WUSF can help. Our responsibility at WUSF News is to keep you informed, and to help discern what’s important for your family as you make what could be life-saving decisions.

Tampa Resident With Lupus Urges Floridians To 'Do Their Part' In Coronavirus Fight

Carlos Perez
Carlos Perez
Tampa resident Carlos Perez has managed to stay safe during the pandemic thus far by strictly following public health guidelines but knows others in his community haven't followed suit.

From job loss, to balancing work from home, to the isolation of social distancing, coronavirus has changed our everyday lives. WUSF is giving you a voice to share those experiences.

Today we meet Carlos Perez, 42, of Tampa. He's a former health worker who has lupus, an autoimmune disease that makes him especially vulnerable to COVID-19.

Perez has managed to stay safe thus far by strictly following public health guidelines but knows others in his community haven't followed suit.

In his own words, Perez shares his concerns watching cases surge in Florida:

Having a health condition like lupus, it really does put a complete different layer on top of everything else. Not only do you have to worry about getting it [COVID-19], you know that you're not only more susceptible to it because you're on immunosuppressants, but at the same time, you know that if you do get it, you're in trouble.

I've been working from home, and I've been fortunate enough to be able to do that. I also have everything delivered because of my lupus condition. So I basically haven't left the house for a couple of months except to do, you know, [medical] appointments or anything like that.

Watching these numbers go up has been an absolute nightmare, especially when you understand exponential growth, knowing that, you know, those numbers can double or triple over a few days. And that's exactly what's happening. It's very frightening.

I'm also a former paramedic, I worked primarily with ventilator patients. As somebody who has intubated a lot of patients with pneumonia and everything else, I don't think people realize how horrifying it is once you’re finally on a ventilator, the damage that it does to you. It's really scary.

I've worked a lot with a lot of patients that had MRSA in their lungs, tuberculosis, all that kind of stuff. Wearing masks is what prevented me from getting all those diseases in the past. So to see that people just don't want to follow the protocol just because of their selfish reasons puts everybody else like me at risk, and the healthcare workers for that matter.

It's frustrating. It's primarily frustrating because it feels that people aren’t doing their part. You know, people are not putting on face masks, something that is so simple.

I understand it's a minor inconvenience. But that minor inconvenience goes such a long way for people like me and healthcare workers that are trying to do our part to keep the numbers down.

When people don't do their part or wear a face mask, it puts all of us in danger. It shouldn't be a political thing. It's actually a common sense thing. If we can please keep the numbers down, then maybe we can get back to normal faster.

I cover health care for WUSF and the statewide journalism collaborative Health News Florida. I’m passionate about highlighting community efforts to improve the quality of care in our state and make it more accessible to all Floridians. I’m also committed to holding those in power accountable when they fail to prioritize the health needs of the people they serve.