Huntsville nurse leaves family and job to work in the nation’s COVID-19 hot spot

Jessica Upton, a nurse in Harlem says, the disease is real, it’s here and it’s deadly.
Published: May. 12, 2020 at 5:32 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - At the beginning of April, Jessica Upton saw a need for nurses in New York City. With no hesitation, days later she was on a plane headed to the largest outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States.

“I was expecting to walk into the trenches, and I walked into the trenches. It’s not so much the trenches anymore. It kind of felt eerie when the plane landed in New York City," Upton explained.

The Huntsville native works at a hospital in Harlem, where nearly the entire hospital was turned into a COVID-19 treatment center. She says the first few weeks were rough.

“It’s a different kind of sickness, a different kind of disease process and a different kind of death. Each one being different in its own," Upton said.

Upton uses the word “gory” to describe COVID 19.

She says she wants people to know the disease is real, deadly and it’s not going away yet.

“People are dying and they’re terrified. They’ll stop breathing and they look terrified. Their family isn’t there. When they say that we FaceTime the families for them to talk to one last time, it’s real. We have dedicated iPads for that," Upton continued.

Upton says she is just one of the many medical employees working tirelessly to keep you and your loved ones safe.

“It’s not only putting our lives on the line, but we’re doing a lot of work and that can’t be in vain. Regardless of your belief religiously, politically, a lot of this cannot and should not be in vain," Upton said.

For now, Upton remains in New York, at the core, and on the front line.

We’ll bring you the First Alert when she makes her way back to her home here in Huntsville.

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