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Tennessee nurse: 'I’ve put an ungodly amount of people in body bags'

Posted at 9:30 PM, Dec 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-03 21:30:42-05

A Tennessee nurse pleads for Tennesseans to see the COVID-19 crisis through her eyes as the battle, she says, is "getting out of hand."

That comes as Tennessee set two troubling new records Thursday -- a record high positivity rate of almost 20 percent and a new daily record of 93 additional deaths just reported.

Nurse Emily Egan, who has worked in the COVID ICU unit at Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport for the past month, recorded the video diary shared by her employer, Ballad Health.

“Ok, I guess, where to start? We started this fight together. We started staying at home, not going out unnecessarily, as a community. I think that everybody did really well. They fought with us.”

Egan's own COVID fatigue showed in her eyes.

"And now I guess they’re tired of it. I guess people are tired of being alone or in their homes and want to get out and be social again.

"We understand the importance of mental health, but the fight is getting out of hand."

As COVID hospitalizations continue to skyrocket across the state of Tennessee, she has seen the faces behind the numbers,

"We’re losing more than we’re keeping," Egan said.

"I’ve put an ungodly amount of people in body bags that I wasn’t prepared to do, that I wasn’t prepared to give up on a patient, but there was nothing else we could do – and we lost them."

Across Tennessee, hospitals are feeling the strain.

Sadly, some days, the number of available ICU beds depends on the number of people dying.

"There’s been days that I’ve lost two patients, did their care and got them moved out to the funeral homes and had to take two right back that were equally as sick," Egan continued.

"I go home. I carry it home. I cry – a lot. I cry a lot. This is real, you know."

Nurse Egan said that she gets that some people don't like wearing masks, that breathing through them isn't always easy.

"But seeing these people die that can’t breathe, it starts to take a toll on you – and you feel so frustrated that they didn’t take it serious, you know. I can’t tell you how many patients that we’ve had that they contracted it at a ballgame or at a family affair of some sort, you know, some birthday parties or dinners," Egan said.

In her case, she hasn't seen her own grandparents in months -- because these days, she says, require us to all be willing to make sacrifices.

"I’m giving these patients my all. I’ve sat with them. I’ve held their hand as they died because family couldn’t be here," Egan said. "And it starts to hurt.

"And if you could just stop one case by wearing a mask or staying home when you didn’t have to go out, it would help us just so much. If everybody did that for one person, I think we could stop this."

As of Thursday morning, there were just 174 ICU beds still available for the entire state.

This article was written by Phil Williams for WTVF.

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Data from The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.