Dr. Simone McLaughlin sees up to 20 pets a day. In normal times, this would be a packed schedule. But pandemic protocols have further complicated matters.
“Covid made us change a lot of things,” said Dr. McLaughlin, a medical director at Bond Vet, a small chain of pet clinics in New York. “Owners could no longer come in. We had to take the pets from them. That was hard.”
Dr. McLaughlin, 35, lives with her husband, Keston Smith, also 35 and a vet, their sons Landon, 3, and Bryson, 1, and their 60-pound Rottweiler Collie mix, Lincoln, in her childhood home, a two-bedroom triplex in Chelsea.
COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO Bryson wakes me up at 6; he’s our rooster with his morning cry. My husband gets him, and we stay in bed until Landon gets up an hour later.
DR. SEUSS TO THE RESCUE By 7ish my husband is making coffee from our Nespresso. I clean up the mess the kids made from the night before. Landon gets up; he’s not a morning person so it takes him some time. It helps if we read to him. Right now he’s into Dr. Seuss, “Inside Your Outside,” which calms him down. My husband makes us all eggs. Since we both work late, mornings are our only meal to eat together.
SHORT COMMUTE By 8:30 I’m in the shower; my showers have many visitors now. I get dressed and leave around 9. I get a Citi Bike. It only takes me 10 minutes to ride and walk to work. I start making calls to pet owners by 9:30 to give them lab results or to touch base with them, since we don’t have overnight care at this location.
BOTTLES TO HUMANS, BOWLS TO PETS The staff come in at 9:45. We have a five-minute morning huddle, then I look to the window and see owners with their pets on the sidewalk. Before, everyone was allowed in the waiting room and treatment rooms. Everything was done in front of them. Since they can’t come in, we added a tent and two benches that are six feet apart outside, and give out water — bottles to the humans, bowls to the pets. Over the last few months we started doing vaccines again. We had stopped so we could focus on emergencies.
EMERGENCIES From 10 to 1, it’s heavy traffic from emergencies — puppies with parvovirus — that’s quite fatal and can be transmitted to other puppies — a sneezing cat with a respiratory infection, someone ate a bone in the street and is now vomiting. We are all masked, and a staffer goes outside and talks with the owner. Then we take the pet inside. For a time we did the examinations in front of the windows so they could still see their pets and we would call them and talk them through what we were doing while we were doing it. Now we’re back in the treatment rooms. We see pets in 30-minute intervals. We do a full physical, then call the owner to go over everything and get their OK to do blood work or fluids under the skin. We might do an ultrasound or X-ray.
LUNCH BREAK I grab a salad from Sweetgreen. I snack throughout the day on Cheetos, one of my passions. I also catch up on doing medical reports.
The Coronavirus Outbreak ›
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated August 27, 2020
What should I consider when choosing a mask?
- There are a few basic things to consider. Does it have at least two layers? Good. If you hold it up to the light, can you see through it? Bad. Can you blow a candle out through your mask? Bad. Do you feel mostly OK wearing it for hours at a time? Good. The most important thing, after finding a mask that fits well without gapping, is to find a mask that you will wear. Spend some time picking out your mask, and find something that works with your personal style. You should be wearing it whenever you’re out in public for the foreseeable future. Read more: What’s the Best Material for a Mask?
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
- In the beginning, the coronavirus seemed like it was primarily a respiratory illness — many patients had fever and chills, were weak and tired, and coughed a lot, though some people don’t show many symptoms at all. Those who seemed sickest had pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome and received supplemental oxygen. By now, doctors have identified many more symptoms and syndromes. In April, the C.D.C. added to the list of early signs sore throat, fever, chills and muscle aches. Gastrointestinal upset, such as diarrhea and nausea, has also been observed. Another telltale sign of infection may be a sudden, profound diminution of one’s sense of smell and taste. Teenagers and young adults in some cases have developed painful red and purple lesions on their fingers and toes — nicknamed “Covid toe” — but few other serious symptoms.
Why does standing six feet away from others help?
- The coronavirus spreads primarily through droplets from your mouth and nose, especially when you cough or sneeze. The C.D.C., one of the organizations using that measure, bases its recommendation of six feet on the idea that most large droplets that people expel when they cough or sneeze will fall to the ground within six feet. But six feet has never been a magic number that guarantees complete protection. Sneezes, for instance, can launch droplets a lot farther than six feet, according to a recent study. It’s a rule of thumb: You should be safest standing six feet apart outside, especially when it’s windy. But keep a mask on at all times, even when you think you’re far enough apart.
I have antibodies. Am I now immune?
- As of right now, that seems likely, for at least several months. There have been frightening accounts of people suffering what seems to be a second bout of Covid-19. But experts say these patients may have a drawn-out course of infection, with the virus taking a slow toll weeks to months after initial exposure. People infected with the coronavirus typically produce immune molecules called antibodies, which are protective proteins made in response to an infection. These antibodies may last in the body only two to three months, which may seem worrisome, but that’s perfectly normal after an acute infection subsides, said Dr. Michael Mina, an immunologist at Harvard University. It may be possible to get the coronavirus again, but it’s highly unlikely that it would be possible in a short window of time from initial infection or make people sicker the second time.
I’m a small-business owner. Can I get relief?
- The stimulus bills enacted in March offer help for the millions of American small businesses. Those eligible for aid are businesses and nonprofit organizations with fewer than 500 workers, including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and freelancers. Some larger companies in some industries are also eligible. The help being offered, which is being managed by the Small Business Administration, includes the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. But lots of folks have not yet seen payouts. Even those who have received help are confused: The rules are draconian, and some are stuck sitting on money they don’t know how to use. Many small-business owners are getting less than they expected or not hearing anything at all.
What are my rights if I am worried about going back to work?
PEOPLE AND THEIR PETS The afternoon is quieter. People slow down. A change of clientele started in April and May. We saw young couples who adopted together for the first time and families who bought puppies during Covid. There were a lot of Labradoodles, and pit bulls that were adopted, which is nice because they’re a neglected breed. A lot of people found cats in their backyards. I might carry a pet back to the owner, which is a good feeling because people are so excited to see a tail wag or the pet looking better. The conversations about older pets who are suffering and might need euthanasia are very hard.
EVENING DRAMAS From 5 to 8, it picks up again. That’s recent. Some people are going back to work. They come home and see their pet is sick. Last week we had a CPR emergency. That was a rare time when we let the owner inside so she could make the decision about her pet, who was suffering. The dog passed in her arms. We all cried with her. We had a Chihuahua with a swollen face and neck. The client went to two other vets. She was told it was a dental issue. It wasn’t. He had a life-threatening heart condition. Being able to save him was a good moment.
COMING HOME We have a quick evening huddle at 8:15 to give positive shout-outs, or we talk about what we could have done better. Then we exit together. I put on a helmet and get another bike. The kids are sleeping when I get home. I watch them through cameras throughout the day so that I feel like I got to see them. My husband’s had them all day so he’s already in bed reading or on the computer. He’s made me dinner; sometimes it’s chili, or chicken with vegetables in a yummy yogurt sauce.
COZY If he’s awake I reflect on the day with him or decompress and vent. Sometimes I take a shower and reflect privately and feel emotional about it. At 9:30 I have a cuddle or read. Right now I’m reading “Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls.” I’ll check on the boys from my phone to make sure they’re asleep. I wear an eye mask to bed and throw on two blankets because the air-conditioner makes the room freezing.