Traveling nurse describes experience in New York and Arizona as COVID-19 pandemic continues

A traveling nurse who has been in Arizona for a few weeks spoke with FOX 10 on July 8, as hospitals are preparing for a surge in COVID-19 cases by bringing in outside nurses and doctors to area hospitals.

Bridget Harrigan, who was in New York, is now helping patients at Banner University. She said while the numbers aren't where New York was, the number of cases is scary.

For Harrigan, a drastic change

At first, Harrigan thought it was a breath of fresh air to see that patients weren't as sick as those in New York.

"There are a lot of numbers so I can see this getting overwhelming very fast," said Harrigan.

That changed drastically as Arizona became the new COVID-19 hotspot.

"Just a week from that, we already tripled our ICU beds, and our COVID capacity it’s kind of hard to look at -- the numbers when people say that we’re at 80% capacity or 100% whatever," said Harrigan. "The ICU was 30 beds, so 30 would be 100%, but now they have opened up three more units, so we’re over 100% capacity. We have triple that."

Harrigan described New York as looking like a warzone compared to Arizona.

"In three week's time, now I’m definitely seeing patients that are sick, very very sick, and are starting to be comparable to those that were in New York," said Harrigan. "In New York, we lost a lot of lives and that was traumatic for everyone there."

Harrigan is appalled that many in Arizona are not taking it seriously.

"Here, we’re nowhere near that, but when I go outside in Arizona and Phoenix, I see that people still don’t take it seriously, and still don’t believe that their impact is really an effect of what’s going on in the hospitals, so I could see it getting close to the level of what New York saw," said Harrigan.

Harrigan has tested positive for COVID-19, and is now in isolation. In addition, she is not at work. Her message to everyone is to wear a mask when out in public.