Doctors in America already battling scarcity of protective gear and the deadly coronavirus, are facing another blow in the form of pay cuts. Many doctors across the nation have been informed that their pay will be reduced during the coronavirus health emergency.

According to Fox News, one of the medical emergency doctors in Los Angeles has so far seen two of her colleagues infected with the virus. She is keeping herself isolated from her family so that her loved ones don't get sick. For this, she got a notice that at least 25 per cent of her pay will be cut.

The doctor, who treats COVID-19 patients in California hospitals, works wearing N95 masks as scarcity of medical gear is so bad throughout the nation. She argues that the military gets huge amounts when they are sent to war zones. But doctors, who are taking the same kind of risk, are not paid as much. The least that can be done is to not resort to pay cut.

Coronavirus
Representational image Xinhua/IANS

Student loan burden

Though the income levels of doctors are clearly above the national average, those who graduated from medical schools are under the burden of huge loans varying from $225,000 to $420,000. The salary of emergency physicians and urgent care doctors in five different states ranged from $215,000 to $260,000 before the cuts. Still they maintain a modest lifestyle living in one bedroom apartments, said one of the doctors.

An emergency physician from New York who received a 10 per cent pay cut said they are being hit while they are already down. She says that she already has a $4,000 student loan monthly bill along with mortgage payments. Staff at her hospital are scared treating COVID-19 patients without proper Personal Protective Equipment. "Emergency room job is absolutely more dangerous. It's definitely more labor-intensive and it's just harder work. We're all in there every day ... basically terrified about what's going to happen," she said.

Dr Frank Gabrin was the first American ER doctor to die from COVID-19 on March 31. "Don't have any PPE that has not been used. No N95 masks – my own goggles – my own face shield," he texted his friend while raising concern over lack of medical supplies in hospitals on March 19. Within two weeks he died from coronavirus.

The total number of Covid-19 fatalities reported from around the United States has surpassed 23,644 and the number of infection cases has reached 587,173 so far.