Chiefs’ lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif will go back to COVID-19 frontlines, receive vaccine

A year ago this week, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was playing in the AFC Championship Game against the Tennessee Titans. 

The Kansas City Chiefs are returning to that contest for the third consecutive year — this instance without Duvernay-Tardif. While the Chiefs will spend this week preparing for the Buffalo Bills, while Taurent-Tardif prepares to receive his vaccine.  

The doctor-in-training opted out prior to the 2020 season and has been on the front lines, working as a part-time orderly at a long-term home, in his native Canada since April. The home has experienced two outbreaks since, he told the Toronto Star last week. 

One of the sad truths of the virus, he said, are the mental effects on an uninfected caretaker.  

“Those moments are really traumatizing for the patients, but also for the people that are working there,” Duvernay-Tardif said in a phone interview with the Star. 

"When (a patient) is passing away because of COVID, you really feel like there’s a feeling of injustice and people are really sad, because you build a connection with those patients," he added. "They almost become family."

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Kansas City Chiefs guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif plays against the Houston Texans in the AFC Divisional Round playoff football game at Arrowhead Stadium last January. (Photo: Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports)

He took time off over the holidays to pursue his charity work and studies at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health online. But the 29-year-old will return to the facility this week, once he receives the first dose of his COVID-19 vaccine. 

Since he has not yet completed his residency or pursued a specialization, Duvernay-Tardif's tasks include putting in IVs, administering medication and drawing blood. The experience has taught him plenty, particularly about the character of his coworkers. 

“Those people are so dedicated, it’s crazy,” he said. “It’s easy to go train and live and work out when you’re getting paid a ton of money to do it, and there’s thousands of people that are there to say, ‘Good job. You’re doing great. You’re so good.’ But to wake up every morning to go to the long-term-care home and do the work that they do, with the amount of passion and dedication that they have, that’s true heroics. Nobody’s there to cheer them on.

“We’re at the finish line. We’ve got to stick together more than ever.”

Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.

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