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Texas ICU nurse weighs in on Texas lifting COVID restrictions: 'I'm scared of what this is going to look like'

Stephen Proctor
·3 min read
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Brittany Smart, an ICU nurse in Texas, appeared on Cuomo Prime Time following her shift Tuesday, hours after Gov. Greg Abbott lifted COVID-19 restrictions in the state, including rescinding the mask mandate and allowing all businesses to operate at 100 percent. Smart believes that’s not a good idea.

“I feel like we finally hit a point where we all started breathing a little bit easier, we kind of saw a light at the end of the tunnel, and I kind of feel like that was shut down,” Smart said. “I think we’re all pretty exhausted and I'm scared of what this is going to look like.”

Smart went to New York City to help as COVID-19 ravaged the city early in the pandemic, comparing what she saw there to a developing nation. But she told herself that the situation was unique in New York, only to be devastated to return home four months later and see a similar crisis unfolding in Texas.

New COVID cases have dropped considerably around much of the country (though the numbers have begun to plateau), but for Smart and her coworkers, that doesn’t mean they’re out of the dark. It only means they are no longer dealing with the nightmare situation they, like so many healthcare workers around the country, found themselves in just a short time ago.

“We’re still taking precautions because we still have COVID patients. It’s not like the COVID patients are gone, it’s not like they’re not dying, it’s just that we no longer need a refrigerated truck outside is the deal,” Smart said. “Our morgues have finally let up just a little bit so we can actually take care of these patients after they die and allow them to be buried properly. We don’t have people in the hallways anymore on stretchers. You know, we’re not putting dead bodies in empty rooms at this point. So we’re breathing a little easier, but it’s not better, it’s just — it’s finally easing up a tad bit. It’s a little nerve wracking to see that, you know, we’re gonna take away the masks. I don’t think it’s safe to do that right now.”

Though things have eased up for now, Smart fears that, given the lifting of restrictions as new COVID variants continue to emerge, things could get very bad once again very soon.

“My biggest fear is that we’re going to lose more people and we’re going to lose them faster, because this variant is a lot stronger,” Smart said, “and it’s going to spread a lot faster.”

Cuomo Prime Time airs weeknights at 9 p.m. on CNN.

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