LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- As hospitals in New York, Washington and California scramble to handle the spike in COVID-19 cases, valley nurses said they worry Las Vegas is next.
“We are not able to take care of you, if we get sick ourselves,” Las Vegas nurse Zachary Pritchett said. “For the first time in my career, I’m scared to go to work.”
“We need our supplies and we need them now – not two days from now,” valley ICU nurse Geoconda Hughes said.
Both are part of the union National Nurses United.
“We’re seeing our beds filling up, units filling up with people under investigation as well as people who are positive [cases of COVID-19],” Hughes said.
Nevada has 5,000 hospital beds. About 700 of those are in intensive care units. According to Gov. Steve Sisolak, 80% of hospital beds are currently in use.
“We are being proactive, trying to get people out who don't need to be here,” Hughes said. “Stay home because we have people who are on ventilators. We have people who need our specialized equipment and our specialized skills.”
Their message is to stay home to stop the spread. And unless it’s an emergency, stay home to spare the healthcare system.
“This is not just one hospital, it's across Las Vegas,” Hughes said. “It's across Nevada. It’s across our country.”
Valley nurses were calling on President Trump and the federal government to enforce the Defense Production Act. The measure would direct private companies to ramp up production of critical goods during a national emergency.
In this case, nurses need more N95 masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment, also known as PPE.
“We’ve seen it in China first, then Italy, and all over the U.S.,” Pritchett said. “If nurses, doctors, healthcare workers, anyone in the U.S. providing care aren't protecting themselves then they're getting ill. They're getting sick and they're dying.”
Las Vegas nurses said they also want better guidance. They said hospitals are trying to stretch their supplies.
“If hospitals have the equipment, we need to use it,” Pritchett said. “We don't need to save it for a rainy day. This is the rainy day.”
The nurses said they are dedicated to saving lives. But they said they can’t that if they can’t stay healthy.
Nurses told FOX5 they’ve heard of the community stepping up to sew masks. While they say it’s very thoughtful, they don’t believe it will be enough to protect them.