By Michael Kaplan                  April 25, 2020            NEW YORK POST


Erika Smith, an FDNY paramedic, is living at the Four Seasons hotel in midtown. Annie Wermiel/NY Post

Erika Smith is a 38-year-old FDNY paramedic working out of Battalion 26 in the South Bronx. The Middletown, NY, resident is staying at a Four Seasons Hotel in Manhattan rather than risk infecting her four children, husband and mother. My daughter Nalya celebrated her 14th birthday on April 20. I drove home to Middletown — but I had to stand outside our house, look at Nalya from a distance and give her an air hug. I cried. I was too scared to embrace my daughter. She's asthmatic and I couldn't take the chance of making her sick. Every day, I treat people who are infected with this disease and I can't risk bringing it home — especially since my my mother has heart issues. That's why I'm staying in a hotel.

The Four Seasons is very nice and the room is beautiful. I feel fortunate just to have a shower and a bed after spending all day going into homes of people who are sick. I spend more time working than I do in the room. I go there to recover, exercise and sleep. There are no amenities, but twice a week I bag the bedding and place it outside the door. Then a person in a hazmat suit — like the one I wear at work, actually — takes it away and leaves fresh ones. Right now I am doing what's necessary. Dealing with death is always difficult but one tragic call after the other is overwhelming. I tell myself that this, too, shall pass. — As told to Michael Kaplan