When the first crush of people sick with COVID-19 turned up at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, Benny Mathew says managers issued him and other nurses two N95 masks per week. Instead of throwing protective masks away after treating contagious patients, they stored them in paper bags.
“There’s no way you’re not getting it if you are working in the emergency room with the bare minimum protection,” Matthew told NPR. He tested positive for COVID-19 on March 21 and said many of his co-workers got sick on the job.
“Some of them were in the hospital for almost a week,” he said. “Nurses carried this virus home and made their partners, kids and parents sick.”
At least 9,000 front-line nurses and other medical workers have contracted COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Federal agencies say dozens of nurses and other care providers have died.