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Exposed Intimacies

Clinicians on the Frontlines of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Ellen Block


COVID-19 has overwhelmed health-care providers. The virus is novel in its prevalence, severity and the risk of asymptomatic infection. In order to reduce the risk of infection and stop the spread of COVID-19, clinicians in hospitals across the United States are taking measures to limit exposure to infected patients by reducing the frequency of visits to patients’ rooms, touching patients less, and adopting new protocols around the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). While these newly adopted practices are helping to reduce transmission risk of COVID-19, they are producing a habitus of infection; an acute shift among clinicians that is deeply embodied and likely to have a permanent impact on the health and wellbeing of both providers and already isolated patients.