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'We need everyone to really hunker down': Healthcare workers fear for safety as COVID-19 cases surge

Healthcare workers are worried people are forgetting about the front-line caregivers, who are increasingly weary and at-risk of contracting COVID-19.

Healthcare workers are worried people are forgetting about the front-line nurses, doctors, technicians, and assistants who are increasingly weary at this point in the pandemic, and at-risk of contracting COVID-19.

Harborview nurse Vanessa Makarewicz remembers back in the spring when, each night, the city paused to honor medical workers by clanging pots and pans and cheered.

“I will never forget the first dishpan night in Seattle," said Makarewicz, who is the manager of infection control at Harborview. "I cried outside my front door because there was just so much wrapped into the support of the community."

Makarewicz said her hospital was caring for 20 COVID patients on Tuesday. She said that figure is quadruple what it was a few weeks ago.

Though cases are now much higher than they were in the spring, the city is noticeably quiet.

“Where has it gone? I mean, everyone's tired. Everyone's tired of talking about it, everyone's tired of hearing me talk about it, and people really just want to have it be done,” said Makarewicz.

RELATED: COVID fatigue taking a toll on mental health and Washington hospitals

Medical staff are also getting sick as hospitals fill up. For example, 20 caregivers at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett tested positive for COVID this month.

Eleven caregivers at Providence Mount St. Vincent, a senior care living community in Seattle, tested positive for COVID on Tuesday.

“When we talk about this, it's personal," said Dr. Nathan Schlicher, president of the Washington State Medical Association. "It's not just personal because it's our family, it's because it's our colleagues, it's our nurses, our physicians, our janitors, our secretaries, everybody that we see suffering with this disease."

"Our staff is getting sick, we live among each of you," he said.

Makarewicz said she and her colleagues are worried about what the weeks after Thanksgiving will look like.

“We need everyone to really hunker down," she said. "This is like the final push."