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Coronavirus Updates: Minnesota Nurse Travels To New York City To Treat COVID-19 Patients

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) --  A Minneapolis nurse in New York City right now fighting COVID-19 shared her experience on the front lines with WCCO Friday.

Lisseth DeGracia is finishing up her second week of 13 working at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens.

She's on leave from her job at Children's Hospital.

DeGracia says she wouldn't believe how bad the situation in New York is if she wasn't seeing it firsthand.

"There's patients everywhere," she said. "Hallways have become patient care areas. Beds are so close you're sometimes stepping on one and moving them to fit between."

DeGracia says she's seen more death in these two weeks than in the rest of her nursing career combined.

"You can't save everyone," she said. "I think it has a lot more to do with the severity of the virus."

The decision to go to New York boiled down to the fact that she felt she would be of more use there than in Minneapolis.

"My kids were proud of me, my mom was proud of me," DeGracia said. "Everyone was rooting for me, and it just felt like it happened for a reason."

DeGracia joined her new coworkers in a vigil this week to grieve six Elmhurst employees who have died of COVID-19.

"They will never be forgotten," one of the speakers said. "We fought very hard with every strength in our body to keep you alive."

DeGracia was able to offer a reason for possible hope.

"It's been a little bit slower the last couple days," she said. "Still not normal, but it hasn't been what it was last week."

As bad as it might get, DeGracia feels patients will never get turned away.

"We're going to win this fight," she said. "It's really unfortunate the way it has to happen, but we're not going to ever stop trying, no matter how long this takes, no matter how hard it is. We're going to keep fighting and we're going to win."

DeGracia says the most difficult sacrifice for her is being apart from her children.

When she finishes her 13 weeks in New York, she'll have to wait another two weeks before being able to see them.

EMERGENCY COMPONENT - LOCAL

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