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With COVID-19 once again on the rise and hospitals swarming with patients, a Tennessee ICU nurse told CNN that the resurgence is decimating her already depleted energy level.
"It was bad enough the first time when everything was new and you could at least give people the excuse of ignorance," Kathryn Ivey Sherman told CNN's Chris Cuomo on Monday.
"But that excuse is long past, and we are still fighting the same battle."
The seven-day average of new daily cases of coronavirus increased by more than 40% from the previous week, said on Monday the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
And many hospitals are feeling the pressure.
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In Tennessee, Sherman said this increase has been even more difficult 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, he said, that for "a brief bright moment there was a light at the end of the tunnel" and his ICU ward quieted down.
Sherman became a nurse during the pandemic, and when the number of cases dropped, she was able to see what it would be like to work as a nurse under more normal conditions, she said.
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But then the cases rose again, the covid-19 units were reopened and the respirators were removed again, he said.
"It's like thinking you came out of the war and they tell you you have to go back," Sherman said.
But this time, Sherman said, nurses like her are still exhausted from the last 18 months of fighting the pandemic.
And staff support is less, as some nurses have needed time off to recover and others have left the field altogether, Sherman said.
"We also don't have people waiting behind the scenes," he said.
"It's just us. There's no one else coming in to save us."