(NBC News) – As the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus climbed past 5,500 Thursday, doctors and first responders say the most valuable weapon in the war against the virus continues to be keeping people isolated.
“The last two weeks have felt like they’ve lasted two years,” says Maureen Bigginger-Grisius, a nurse at Beaumont Hospital in Farmington Hills, Michigan.
Doctors and nurses are overwhelmed, not only with the fight for life, but also with the mental struggle of being there when family members cannot and patients lose that battle.
“Even that we’re geared up in full PPE, you have two eyes looking at you, and its heartbreaking as a nurse to know you are that person’s everything and sometimes in those last moments the weight of trying to fill the shoes of the people who can’t be there is really heavy,” Bigginger-Grisius says.
Help is streaming into the hardest hit areas, with crews driving in from across the country to spell exhausted first responders in New York.
About 90-percent of the country is now under “stay at home orders,” something experts say is vital to stopping the outbreak.
“We don’t have a vaccine that’s deployable. This is the only thing we have, and we can get through it if everybody really leans forward and pushes on this,” says Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
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