A nurse treating patients with the novel
Chelsey Earnest, a worker at the Life Care Center in Kirkland – the epicenter of the outbreak in Washington – told
‘It’s something that I witnessed in all of [the patients],’ she said.
‘They have, like…allergy eyes. The white part of the eye is not red. It’s more like they have red eye shadow on the outside of their eyes.’
Chelsey Earnest (pictured) is a nurse who treated coronavirus patients at Life Care Center in Kirkland, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Washington state
She said redness around the eyea was the most important sign that someone was infected with the virus. Pictured: Medics transport a patient through heavy rain into an ambulance at the Life Care Center, March 7
Earnest said that if she told one physician that somebody had red eyes, a hospital bed would be made ready for them. Pictured: Sisters Carmen Gray (reflected at left) and Bridget Parkhill visit their mother Susan Hailey, who is recovering from coronavirus at Life Care, March 24
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doesn’t list red eyes – or any eye issues – on its
What is included are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Persistent pain or pressure in the chest and bluish lips are listed as emergency signs.
But the American Academy of Ophthalmology sent an
Earnest said patients at Life Care Center often would go from having no other symptoms but red eyes to dying.
‘We’ve had patients that just had the red eyes as the only symptom that we saw and go to the hospital and pass away,’ she told CNN.
‘I’ve even had the disaster medical control physician say: “Do they have the red eyes?” And I will say: “Yes.”
‘And he’ll say: “I’ll find you a bed.” It’s just something about this, the way that it affects these patients.’
Life Care Center, which is located outside of Seattle, has been one of hardest hit from the virus since the first cases were detected in February.
As of Tuesday, at least 129 patients, staff and visitors were infected, according to the CDC and Life Care Center.
At least 35 people have died, 18 of them being patients.
Jeffrey Duchin, an officer for Public Health, Seattle & King County, said he asked hospitals to offer staff, but he was denied.
‘I personally would have thought that we would have been able to muster more staff from our local healthcare system,’ Duchin told
‘But I think everybody at this point was already experiencing some degree of COVID-19 stress, and didn’t feel like they had staff that they could spare.’
In the US, there are more than 50,000 confirmed cases across all states and territories and more than 600 deaths.