The doctors and nurses serving on the front lines and being hailed as heroes during the coronavirus pandemic are now paying another price for their heroics: community fear and isolation.
Some doctors and nurses in the Bay Area said they have to watch what they wear when they are in public. NBC Bay Area has learned that the healthcare workers' scrubs are becoming a stigma.
"We have had some nurses that have said anecdotally that they've been at the grocery store, or somewhere else, after they left work, and although people are grateful, they don't want them around them in their scrubs because they fear they're carrying COVID-19," said Mark Brown, chief nursing officer at San Jose's Good Samaritan Hospital.
Nurses at another South Bay hospital shared the same story of scrubs triggering fear.
"It definitely doesn't help when it comes to all the stress they're dealing with, but there is more education that needs to go on," Brown said. "It's nobody's fault. It's a new thing. It's a novel coronavirus."
Brown said his staff is now allowed to shower and change into civilian clothes at the hospital so they can go home without worrying about the negative public reaction.
"Doing our part when it comes to giving them our scrubs so they can go home in normal clothes and not have to worry about the scarlet letter attached to them, or bringing it home to their families," Brown said.
Brown also said looking at all the data, there is little concern of infection from hospital scrubs, but he understand the public fear.