Since March 11, things in Arkansas have changed dramatically. We are now in Phase 2 of opening our state but continue to see a dramatic increase in the number of cases. Nurses continue to be the heroes in the collective fight to treat and prevent the spread of COVID-19. As the standards and processes change seemingly every day, nurses around the world step up to be the frontline of defense against the unprecedented virus. With our state and other states around the country see an increase in cases, again, nurses are stepping up to help in hot spots.

The effects of the novel coronavirus on our healthcare system are leaving immense challenges in their wake. With all of the responsibilities that nurses have during this time, their mental health can be severely impacted. Nurses and other frontline health care workers directly engaged in treating patients with COVID-19 are three times as likely to suffer insomnia and more than 50 percent more likely to suffer depression or anxiety. All caregivers can benefit from evaluating and addressing their own nurse burnout before thinking of others.

Resources are available through the Well-Being Initiative.

Susie Marks
ARNA State Director

Unless you shy completely away from the news and social media, you are saturated with advice on how to prevent contracting COVID-19. Now that the coronavirus is likely in your community, the Arkansas Nurses Association has some commonsense advice in case you do get sick.

Most cases are mild, but you can still spread it to others. If you do become sick, stay home and rest. Avoid contact with others in your home, including pets. Practice the “vampire” sneeze or cough (into your elbow) and immediately wash your hands. Continue mindfulness when it comes to touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

If you feel you need to be seen or tested, contact your provider first. They may be able to give you advice over the phone to help prevent the spread and keep others from getting infected. If you have a chronic illness, be sure you have access to your prescription medications and that intermittent use medications like inhalers aren’t expired.

Things you should stock up on to deal with the symptoms of COVID-19 include over-the-counter fever reducers, cough and cold medication, and tissues (items that you would normally need if you have a respiratory illness; contact your provider for advice specific to your situation).

Wearing a regular facemask at home can help prevent the spread of disease to others. Avoid sharing dishes, towels, bedding, etc. Dispose of contaminated masks and tissues in a lined trash can. Wipe down all high-touch surfaces such as counters, doorknobs, toilets and phones every day. If your household has more than one bathroom, reserve one for those who are sick. Once the symptoms have resolved, replace your toothbrush!

Humidified air might help, but make sure you clean yours properly so as not to make matters worse. Nasal saline drops are just as effective. Try not to crank up the heat in your home as hotter air is generally dryer. Open windows if you can to allow fresh air to circulate.

MOST importantly, stay hydrated and don’t forget to make sure older adults and children are getting enough fluids. Urine that is clear and without strong odor is a good indicator that you are drinking enough water. Water is perfect, by the way – avoid sugary drinks.

It is well-established that social distancing will get us back to “normal” more quickly so please adhere to the recommendations and continue to avoid public places when at all possible. VIGILANCE (not panic) is key for reducing the burden of disease and for all of us to return to life as usual.

Dr. Cynthia Aurentz, DNP, RN, CNE


Centers for Disease Control (2020, March 13).  Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the U.S. : What to do if you are sick.  Retrieved from

Washington State Department of Health (2020, March 5).  What to do if you have confirmed or suspected coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Retrieved from