A San Francisco nurse who is helping to fight the coronavirus pandemic has earned viral fame on TikTok by posting dance videos that aim to educate young people about the deadly illness, and the struggles faced by healthcare workers trying to help those infected.
Miki Rai, 23, is currently serving on the front-line in the war against COVID-19; the pediatric intensive care unit (NICU) nurse graduated from nursing school just two years ago – but despite warnings about a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), she is turning up to work regardless, like so many other healthcare workers.
Some of Miki’s colleagues have been asked to re-use their masks for a week’s worth of shifts which contradicts standard hygiene practices, and she is also finding that supermarket shelves are empty when she visits at the end of a long day.
However that hasn’t stopped her from posting video after video on TikTok, where she films herself doing viral dances while spreading information about how her fellow users can help to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
In her 15-second videos, Miki has educated viewers on how to wash their hands thoroughly and how to practice effective social distancing, explaining what places people should avoid, and what activities they can safely do.
The tactic seems to be working as Miki’s videos have collectively received an impressive 2,000,000 likes. She hopes to continue battling the spread of misinformation in addition to raising awareness on how we can all help ease the strain on healthcare services.
‘I’m a trained pediatric intensive care unit nurse. I received my nursing degree from the UCLA School of Nursing in 2018,’ Miki said.
‘The healthcare profession has been absolutely swamped with an increase in the volume of patients. Routine check-ups and non-emergent procedures are all being re-scheduled during this time to prevent any unnecessary contact.
‘It’s incredibly humbling to be part of a profession where we can be on the front-line, supporting patients and families through an incredibly difficult time.
‘Although there is a lot of uncertainty, there is also a lot of hope as we see more research and data being shared throughout the world. Scientists are hard at work trying to develop a vaccine.’
Miki has, understandably, noticed a difference in her working life.
‘I’ve personally added on extra shifts, as have many of my colleagues,’ Miki said.
‘Currently there is a nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). In particular, masks are on very low supply.
‘I have colleagues who are being asked to re-use the same mask for a week at a time – that’s three, twelve-hour shifts. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention have even issued a statement saying that when masks run out, we can use ‘homemade masks,’ including scarves and bandanas which is absolutely ridiculous.
‘It is incredibly scary knowing our healthcare professionals may not be protected from coronavirus. We want to make sure that we can keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.
‘Hospitals across the nation are setting up donation sites for medical supplies.
‘Sadly, I’ve also experienced empty grocery store shelves. In the United States, we are incredibly lucky that our country’s infrastructure is still intact. Sewers are still working. The water still works. It’s great to have a two-week emergency supply on hand but beyond that, there is no need to hoard supplies.
‘We’re all in this together, and right now, more than ever, it’s important to be kind to one another.’
Miki decided to increase her efforts by educating those online about what they could do to help.
‘In current times, we’re lucky to have unlimited digital access which makes information highly accessible to us,’ Miki said.
‘Sometimes, this can be harmful with all of the misinformation about coronavirus out there. People who claim to be experts are causing unnecessary fear and anxiety amongst people.
‘I believe in the same way that healthcare professionals educate patients at the bedside, we have the same social responsibility to educate the public.
‘Social media is a powerful tool because in just a few clicks, you can reach people who might otherwise never be able to hear your message.
‘I saw that many young people were still choosing to go out to bars, clubs, book cheap travel, or have “quarantine parties”. This is incredibly dangerous because not practicing social distancing not only puts yourself at risk, but puts all of your loved ones you see and interact with at risk too.
‘I wanted to put that message across on a platform audiences are receptive to.
‘TikTok is a platform with a young audience base. I started learning trending dance moves and paired it with educational content about coronavirus. For example, I have a video on a proper hand-washing technique.
‘The response has been overwhelmingly positive. The hand-washing video was shared all over Facebook and Instagram and it made me so happy to see other young people spreading the word.
‘If we all do our part in social distancing, we can minimize and delay the spread of the virus.’