ICU Nurse Says COVID Taking Toll on Staff as Some Patients Still Believe Virus Isn't Real

A Colorado nurse who works in an intensive care unit said that she still encounters COVID-19 patients who don't believe that the virus is real, and even blame their illness on hospital staff.

"It's hard though, when you know that you're doing good for the patients, but they're yelling at you," Kathleen Combs, a nurse at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora said in an interview with CBS Denver.

"They're telling you it's not real. They're telling you that you're a murderer," she added.

Some of the patients who don't believe in the virus are very ill. Combs said she hears them say "'I can't breathe.'"

"Exactly. That's because you have COVID. 'Well no I don't have COVID, that's not real.' I've had these conversations with people," she told the CBS Denver.

And she said some of them believe that the virus is "created by somebody else or created by the media or the government or whatnot. I've never experienced that...There are those who just absolutely will deny it all the way until the moment when they're no longer alive," Combs added.

She said hospital staff have received threats.

"We have people yell at us, on the phone. They're not nice," Combs told the news station. Some have accused staff of making them ill.

"That we are the cause of them getting sicker and dying. That we are causing this," she said.

Nurse Says COVID Taking Toll on Staff
A Colorado nurse who works in an intensive care unit said that she still encounters COVID-19 patients who don't believe that the virus is real, and even blame their illness on hospital staff. National Jewish Health registered nurse Lindsay Waldman receives hand-drawn thank you notes before administering pediatric COVID-19 vaccines on November 3, in Denver, Colorado. Michael Ciaglo

Combs has been working in the hospital's intensive care unit since the pandemic hit in 2020, and said that she's seen a lot of "sadness, a lot of sick people, a lot of death. And unnecessarily so at this point," she said.

"It's emotionally draining to me now."

Colorado has been contending with a recent surge in COVID-19 cases. State officials said Wednesday that Colorado had reached an all-time low of available hospital beds, 9 News reported. At the time, more than 1,400 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized with the virus, and 79 percent of them had not been vaccinated against the virus.

According to state data, 72.5 percent of Colorado residents over the age of 12 have been fully vaccinated.

Amid the surge in COVID cases, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed an executive order Thursday ensuring that all state residents are eligible to receive COVID booster shots.

"The health and safety of Coloradans has been my top priority throughout this global pandemic. We want to ensure that Coloradans have every tool they need to protect themselves from this deadly virus and to help reduce the stress on our hospitals and health care workers," Polis said Thursday.