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Georgia Nurses Answer N.Y. Governor's Call For Reinforcements

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

More than 5,000 people have died of COVID-19 in New York City. That is according to Johns Hopkins University. Doctors and nurses in New York are working endless hours to try and limit the death toll, but they are getting exhausted.

NOEL KING, HOST:

Governor Andrew Cuomo has asked for reinforcements.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ANDREW CUOMO: I am asking health care professionals across the country - if you don't have a health care crisis in your community, please come help us in New York now.

KING: While Cuomo was making that plea, 29 nurses in Atlanta, Ga., were already responding. They talked to their families, packed their scrubs and got on a flight to New York City to help.

GREENE: Letha Love is one of them.

LETHA LOVE: Honestly, I don't know what I was expecting. I wasn't expecting what I got.

GREENE: By her second day, Love says she was working almost exclusively with COVID-19 patients, many of whom were struggling to stay alive.

LOVE: So it was a hard blow.

KING: She told us it was sobering. But in some ways, it was also inspiring.

LOVE: It's a fight. It's a battle because you just don't know if they're going to recover or not. And you want to do the best you can to take care of them.

KING: Isolation protocols in New York hospitals mean patients in the ICU cannot have visitors, even if they are dying. But Love wants families to know sick people are not alone.

LOVE: We're there. There's doctors there. There's nurses there. They're not suffering alone. The next best thing is us. We are taking care of them.

GREENE: Like many health care workers with families at home, Love is aware that they need her, too. She has a daughter and a son back in Georgia.

LOVE: Every time I call home on FaceTime, it's like, where's your mask? Where's your gloves? He really - he's ready for me to come home. And of course, I'm homesick. But I want to be here.

KING: Love says, for the moment, she's where she needs to be. And she has a message for other medical workers.

LOVE: If you could come, come. You don't have to stay just for a long period of time. A week helps. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.