‘We are still in a dire situation right now': Surge of COVID-19 cases causing staff shortages at hospitals nationwide

WASHINGTON — Among the halls of many hospitals is a dramatic surge of hospitalizations due to the coronavirus.

In some cases, it’s stretching medical staff to the max -- again.

Kendra McMillan is a registered nurse from Maryland and said what they’re seeing now is all too similar to what they thought was the worst earlier this year.

“We are still in a dire situation right now, in terms of the support that’s requested, the support that’s needed. The medical community needs help right now,” McMillian said.

In some states like Pennsylvania, nursing unions are threatening to strike because they worry staffing levels are too low to safely help patients during the pandemic.

In other states, the shortage is so bad that nursing schools and medical associations are allowing temporary certifications to students close to taking final exams, hoping it helps to fill the gaps.

“Many are out because they have tested covid positive and they are quarantining, or they actually are sick and they’re in isolation, they’re exhausted,” said Liz Close of the Utah Nurses Association.

Having the protective gear they need is still an issue, months after hospitals went through the same problem.

“Our nurses are still reporting the reuse of their N-95 respirator mask respirators for greater than 15 days in some cases,” McMillian said. “This is not an acceptable method or strategy.”