This post contains graphic content.
A startling image of a refrigerated truck filled with body bags in New York City is shedding light on the real-world implications of the coronavirus pandemic.
The photo, shared with BuzzFeed News‘s Miriam Elder by a nurse in Manhattan, was taken inside a refrigerated truck on Sunday.
The 38-year-old medical professional, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, is hoping the image will convey not only the reality of the deadly disease but the strain hospitals have been put under.
“It is the ghastly reality of what we deal with and where some of us have ended up already,” the nurse told BuzzFeed News.
Well over a dozen deceased individuals can be seen in orange and white bags. The nurse noted that one of the bags contained a patient he had just witnessed die the evening prior.
“I never had the patience to sit with somebody I’d just met until they took their last breath,” he said. “But I really liked this lady’s cardigan and pajamas so I decided to stay and get to know her a little.”
The nurse went on to describe the 71-year-old woman and her “bandana that matched her house clothes” before wondering if that garment could have saved her life.
“Perhaps if she’d covered her face with it instead, she wouldn’t have ended up here in the first place,” he said. “But she didn’t die alone.”
Aside from the graphic nature of the pandemic, the nurse also revealed the hardships medical workers are under as hospitals struggle to control the influx of patients.
“We are rationed personal protective equipment to absurdity,” the nurse said, noting that only one mask can be used for a 12-hour shift.
Hospital workers are also struggling with current rules that bar them from being tested for COVID-19 unless they are showing symptoms.
“If we are COVID positive, we are expected to work for as long as we are asymptomatic. However we cannot get tested unless we are symptomatic,” he said. “They don’t want to test us because, at the rates we are exposed, we are likely all sick and we don’t know it.”
The nurse, who has had trouble getting the image of the truck out of his head, says the entire incident is unlike anything he’s ever witnessed.
“Maybe as a Jew I relate it to all of the Holocaust footage because that’s my only point of reference for such an image of humans,” he said. “[N]ever seen something quite like it.”
New York City, described as one of the major coronavirus hotspots in the U.S., has seen 678 deaths and 32,308 confirmed cases of COVID-19 so far. Experts fear other major cities across the country could soon experience the same.
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H/T BuzzFeed News