Daniela Rodriguez, 24 (audio story included)

Daniela Rodriguez, who is 33 weeks pregnant, is a registered nurse at Baptist Hospital in Kendall.

She graduated from Barry University last year with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and works on the hospital’s Cardiac Medical Surgery floor.

Since she is on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic, she and her unborn daughter are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. In 2002 one-fifth of all cases during the SARS outbreak were healthcare workers, and nurses across the country are concerned they may be spreading the novel coronavirus because of inadequate protections.

“It’s challenging being pregnant and being told to take part in social distancing and quarantine,” she said. “I can’t necessarily do that. I have to work alongside nurses and assistants. . . not knowing who’s infected [but] not yet showing symptoms.”

Due to the nature of her work, Rodriguez said she works with different people each day.

“It’s just scary thinking I could be contracting this virus and there’s no data on whether this virus crosses the placental barrier and my daughter, who has no developed immune system, will also potentially contract this virus,” she said.

There’s no practical way to avoid contact with patients. Even though Rodriguez and her colleagues wear full Personal Protective Equipment — which includes gloves, a gown, goggles, masks and a face shield – it’s not a guarantee she’ll be safe.

“It’s tough because there’s even a right and wrong way of removing all of these in order to prevent infecting yourself,” she said. “It almost feels like one wrong move — even if you’re taking all the right steps — could mean being infected by this virus that we don’t even fully understand.”

Jessie Perez is a senior at Florida International University pursuing a Bachelors of Communications in broadcast media. She hopes to become a news anchor and have her own podcast.