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Nurse Arlyn Dela Pena on COVID-19: ‘There's other ways to show your love without physically being there in person’

Arlyn Dela Pena has been a nurse for 13 years. An army nurse for 10 years and a registered nurse for the majority of her career with a Master of Science in Nursing, she has been a critical care nurse in the intensive care unit, also working in the acute care settings. She has worked with COVID-19 patients and has trained at FEMA-related disasters, tropical medicine, trauma and wound care. Dela Pena is also expecting twins. She tells Giselle Tongi-Walters on behalf of the Pacific Asian Counseling Service what precautions she has had to take at this time.

“Strict hand washing, always wearing a mask, changing out your mask, washing your mask and only using it for one day...the cloth masks, of course, and social distancing as much as possible. It's really important to avoid huge gatherings at this point because COVID-19, as everybody has been hearing in the news, whether they believe it or not, is very easily spread. And so it's very important to follow those types of rules,” she says.

Dela Pena says it’s important to wash your cloth masks.

“Masks are now so easily available, you can find them at different retail stores online. You know, I think initially, early on in the pandemic, back in the spring, it was very hard to find any type of cloth mask. And there's different types out there. So it was very confusing for many people. And then we ran out of personal protective equipment, PPE for health care providers,” she says.

And for the upcoming holidays, Dela Pena says it’s crucial to stay home in order to stay safe for everyone even though families want to gather together.

“We are nomads. We go all over the world. We've all sacrificed our families back home in the Philippines or even here. Everybody sacrificed to get us to this point. And I think it's very important that we don't forget that because there have been many times even in the military, I think the quarantine is very similar to being deployed in the military. You can't really go out. You're kind of limited and then it passes. So it's something that you have to look at this pandemic in that manner,” she says. You know, we all have spent a holiday away from a loved one or we couldn't make it back home or a family couldn't come to us. And we are so spoiled with technology because back in the day you could only read a letter.”

Technology can help bridge the physical gap COVID-19 has created.

“You can FaceTime. You can still write letters and gifts. There's other ways to show your love without physically being there in person, because remember, we are strong, we are a strong culture and we're very family oriented. And we want to make sure that we keep the rest of our family and friends safe,” she says. “And so if we all collectively together sacrifice now, then in 2021, you know, next year, the next two years, however long it takes to get this pandemic under control, then we can celebrate and we can really celebrate altogether because we'll survive. We are survivors. We go through typhoons, you know, we go through many things throughout Filipino history all together. And we've made it this far. And so I think keep that in mind going into Thanksgiving, Christmas time, birthdays, anniversaries, whatever it is, because it is truly difficult to explain to somebody who does not believe in COVID-19 why their family member cannot be next to them as they're passing away and explaining that somebody young and healthy went to a huge party and it wiped out half of their family.”

RELATED: Here are ways to protect yourself and your loved ones from COVID-19.

If you have any questions, you may reach out to Pacific Asian Counseling Services. They are available through email and phone calls. If you have any questions about COVID-19 related to symptoms and testing, and you are more comfortable conversing in Filipino, call the Pacific Asian Counseling Services at (562) 418-6161 or email

This article was written and edited by the Tayo editorial desk and has been reviewed by an independent panel of subject matter experts.

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