LAUREN LEANDER is a critical care nurse in Phoenix, Arizona, and since the pandemic hit, she’s been spending endless hours tending to patients with COVID-19. She’s also stood up for the people yet to be infected with the virus. That standing up has led to her being yelled at by a mob, threatened, and insulted by a state senator.
Despite a “Stay Home” order by the governor, a rally was organized at the state capital to demand that the governor “let people go back to work.” Leander decided that she needed to be there—on one of her rare days off.
Her face masked and her arms crossed, she stood silently, defiantly, on the Capitol steps with a handful of other healthcare workers. The crowd screamed at her.
“It was heated,” she recalls. “People were very fired up about what they had to say. A lot of the top comments we got were about us being fake nurses. There was a huge majority of them that still believe this virus is fake, that it’s a hoax and not real at all. They were convinced that we’re fake nurses and that’s why we weren’t talking.”
Looking at photos from the rally, a State Senator tweeted: “EVEN IF these ‘spontaneously’ appearing ppl at protests against govt overreach (sporting the same outfits, postures, & facial expressions) ARE involved in healthcare - when they appeared at rallies, they were actors playing parts #Propaganda #FakeOutrage”
Leander’s response to the Senator? “I wish she could be in my shoes for a day. I’d have her put on a pair of scrubs and walk with me.”
Leander misses her family; she hasn’t seen any of them since volunteering to work in the COVID-19 unit. But that feeling pales in comparison to the emotions of the patients whose hands she holds as they die without being able to see their families.
Lauren Leander knows that the fight against COVID-19 extends beyond the walls of the hospital, that people like her, who know with great certainty how not-fake the virus is, must speak out against the ignorance that will put more people into her COVID unit, needing her care.