A New York City nurse said she worked for a full week at two hospitals while she was infected with the novel coronavirus.
“Two weeks ago, I was feeling back pain. A lot of back pain. And then one night I had really bad chest pain,” the nurse, who did not reveal her identity, said in an interview with CNN reporter Elizabeth Cohen. “I was told the hospital was not testing staff. That’s what I was told when I asked about getting tested.”
The nurse also revealed that she wore the same mask and gown for an entire day of work, even while having to move between several patients.
“I’m touching that mask. It’s on my face. I’m putting it back on, virus flies in the air, it goes right up in my nose. It’s so easy to get contaminated when you have to put on something that already has this virus on it,” the nurse said.
The only reason the nurse found out she was infected was because she went to the emergency room when she knew a friend was working. She asked her friend to conduct the COVID-19 test.
“I said, ‘Please just this one time do it. I just want to make sure I don’t have it. I don’t want to spread anything.’ She said, ‘Okay,’ and she tested me,” the nurse said.
The results of the test came back positive five days later, meaning the nurse had spent a full seven days taking care of patients while infected. The nurse said she is worried that she may have “infected staff members, visitors, patients.”
Stephanie Buhle, the deputy press secretary for the New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, told Newsweek in an email that “New Yorkers should not get tested for COVID-19 unless they are hospitalized” when asked why hospitals are not mandated by the state or city to routinely test hospital employees.
“The guidance to all people whether they are asymptomatic or sick (but not sick enough to be hospitalized) is the same: STAY HOME. A test result will not change this guidance, and will not change what a doctor tells you to do to get better, which is to stay at home. Getting a test wastes critical supplies needed by hospitals to take care of the very sick and puts more people at risk of getting sick,” Buhle said in the email.
When asked about why the personal protective equipment currently in the state’s stockpile is not being released to hospitals in need, Buhle said, “New York City currently has enough personal protective equipment (masks, gloves, gowns) to last days, not weeks. We are doing everything we can to acquire more supplies, but there is an extreme shortage nationwide.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has called for the state’s hospitals to pool their resources together so that they will not have to go without essential personal protective equipment, like gowns and masks.
“We want to know what [personal protective equipment] everybody has. One stockpile, we distribute it fairly,” the governor said yesterday during his daily coronavirus briefing. According to the presentation displayed at the briefing, there are currently 1.5 million N-95 masks currently in the New York state stockpile and 240,000 gowns.
New York City is the epicenter of the virus in the United States with 75,795 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, according to the state’s website. The city has 41,771 confirmed cases and 1,096 deaths, as of 5 p.m. Tuesday.