A New York City hospital worker died this week after helping treat patients with coronavirus. A Mount Sinai Health System spokesperson confirmed the death of Kious Kelly to CBS News in a statement on Thursday.
Kelly, who tested positive for coronavirus, was an assistant nursing manager at Mount Sinai West in Manhattan, according to his coworkers on social media. Kelly's sister, Marya Patrice Sheron, wrote an emotional post about him on Facebook, calling the pain of his death "excruciating."
"I don't know how to do this," Sheron wrote. "We had plans...we were going to build a tiny house on our parents property. I'm angry."
To his colleagues, he was an esteemed colleague who did his best to help everyone.
"He worked harder than anybody I knew, went above and beyond for every patient, he went above and beyond to help every provider," Shaina Samuel wrote on Facebook. 'Rest In Peace Kious. Hope we make you proud."
The same hospital where he worked caught criticism after a photo was posted showing three nurses wearing garbage bags to shield themselves. That post was deleted, but it was published by the New York Post.
"NO MORE GOWNS IN THE WHOLE HOSPITAL," the original caption read, according to the Post. "NO MORE MASKS AND REUSING THE DISPOSABLE ONES…NURSES FIGURING IT OUT DURING COVID-19 CRISIS."
Several nurses who spoke to the tabloid pinned Kelly's death on a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and gowns. They said a lack of supplies prompted them to reuse the ones they had even after treating patients infected with COVID-19.
Mount Sinai Health System spokeswoman Renatt Brodsky strongly refuted those claims.
"The safety and protection of all Mount Sinai staff and patients is always — and will always be — our absolute top priority, but especially during the COVID-19 crisis," Brodsky said in a statement. "When it comes to staff wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), the facts are very clear: we always provide all our staff with the critically important PPE they need to safely do their job. If an individual does not have their proper PPE, they do not go on the floor, period."
Brodsky called Kelly a "hero" for his service and said the attention must stay focused on saving the sick.
"This crisis is straining the resources of all New York area hospitals and while we do — and have had — enough protective equipment for our staff, we will all need more in the weeks ahead. This crisis is only growing and it's essential that we not only have all the right equipment but that we come together to help and support one another. This week we lost a member of our family. We are grieving deeply for his loss, but we must carry on and continue to do what we do best: save lives."
During his daily coronavirus briefing Thursday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the New York City hospital system has enough PPE for now.
"Equipment and PPE is an ongoing issue," Cuomo said. "We do have enough PPE for the immediate future. The New York City hospital system confirmed that. We have enough in stock now for the immediate need."
But as the coronavirus outbreak escalated around the country, many hospitals have been facing shortages of essential medical supplies. Some doctors and nurses have even resorted to wearing makeshift medical gear to protect themselves in the form of Halloween masks and ski goggles.