Facing the recent rise in Covid-19 cases is like being told you have to walk back into war, nurse says

Covid-19 is once again on the rise, hospitals are filling up with patients and a Tennessee ICU nurse told CNN the resurgence is decimating her already depleted energy level.

“It was bad enough the first time around when it was all still new and you could at least give people the excuse of ignorance,” Kathryn Ivey Sherman told CNN’s Chris Cuomo Monday. “But that excuse has long since passed, and we’re still fighting the same battle.”

The seven-day average of daily new coronavirus cases is up by more than 40% over the previous week, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Monday. And many hospitals are feeling the pressure.

In Tennessee, Sherman said this surge has been even harder than before for multiple reasons: The patients are younger this time and there is a vaccine that could have kept most of them out of the hospital.

Also, she said, for “a brief shining moment there was a light at the end of the tunnel” and her ICU ward settled down.

Sherman became a nurse during the pandemic, and when case counts dipped she got to see what it might be like to work in nursing under more normal conditions, she said.

But then case numbers picked back up, Covid-19 units opened back up and the respirators were brought back out, she said.

“It’s like thinking you walked out of war and being told you have to go back in,” Sherman said.

But this time, Sherman said, nurses like her are still worn down from the past 18 months of fighting the pandemic. And the staff support is smaller as some nurses have needed time off to recover and others have left the field entirely, Sherman said.

“We also don’t have people that are waiting in the wings,” she said. “It’s just us. There’s nobody else coming in to save us.”

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