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Duke nurse compares Triangle cases to New Zealand :: WRAL.com

Durham, N.C. — Since the pandemic began, Duke Regional Hospital nurse Ashley Wheeler has provided WRAL News with insight about what the COVID-19 fight looks like inside hospitals.

Wheeler has said over and over again that she is tired, overwhelmed and concerned. As more sick patients come into the hospital in critical condition, many of them young, she has urged people to stay home if possible, avoid crowds and wear a mask.

In her latest interview with WRAL, Wheeler admitted she is jealous of New Zealand, which just reported new COVID-19 cases Tuesday — its first cases in 102 days.

The Associated Press reports New Zealand’s outbreak has grown to 30 people.

Wheeler said her best friend is a health care worker in New Zealand.

“I am jealous,” she said. “They have issued what’s essentially a lockdown, with only essential workers. They closed the schools, and they are testing everyone because they really want to figure this out because it was a community transmission.”

On Thursday, WRAL Data Trackers learned of 2,000 new infections in North Carolina, bringing the state’s total to more than 141,700. The state’s total deaths are more than 2,300, and more than 1,000 people are in the hospital. The U.S. as a whole has 5.2 million confirmed cases.

“I am so glad that she’s going to be safe, but I am honestly so jealous that we don’t have anything approaching that,” Wheeler said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand has kept COVID-19 away longer than any other country.

“We have been world-leading in our COVID response, with the result that many lives were saved and our economy was getting going faster than almost anywhere else,” she said. “We can do all of that again.”

Last week, Wheeler shared sad news that a former coworker died from COVID-19.

“He was much younger than me,” she said. “It’s definitely indiscriminate about who gets really sick. It’s a lot of young people, a lot of families.”

Wheeler said many of the COVID-19 cases at Duke were from people who contracted it from others who were completely asymptomatic, so it’s important to avoid gathering in groups even if you feel well. “We have to test everyone who comes to the hospital, so we’ve seen a lot of surprise positive tests,” she said.

Find WRAL’s complete coronavirus coverage here.

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