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Sugar Land respiratory therapist describes being on the front lines of COVID-19 pandemic in New York

Pam Sturgill gave a first-hand account of working on the front lines of the pandemic in New York City.

SUGAR LAND, Texas — A respiratory therapist from Sugar Land is giving us a first-hand account of what it’s like working at a hospital in New York City.

Pam Sturgill spoke with KHOU 11's Grace White before she left Houston and now she's speaking with her from the front lines.

RELATED: Sugar Land respiratory therapist answers call for help fighting COVID-19 in New York

Grace White: Hi, how are you?

Pam Sturgill: I'm OK. It's been...it's been eye opening, but we're getting used to it.

White: Have you seen anything that surprised you?

Sturgill: Nothing, nothing could prepare us for what we actually walked into. The whole hospital was COVID(-19 patients).

White: Do you think you've seen the curve flatten?

Sturgill: I think I'm beginning to see the curve flatten but I have to admit, Grace, it's really been an every other day thing... it usually affects men more than women. I would say a our ratio, a good estimate ratio is probably 10 to 1, 10 men to 1 woman, a lot of these people are young, 30s, 40s.

White: Have you lost any patients?

Sturgill: A lot, and it's still daily and it's more than one. I focus, like I said, I focus on my patients I see improvement in every day. My Facebook group has just been remarkable, the letters every day, that's probably one of my most exciting parts of my day is just to check the mail. I am receiving artwork, which is wonderful. We've been hanging that up. Actually the hospital is hanging that in the main lobby.

White: Here in Texas, the governor is talking about re-opening, and I wonder, do you have any advice for all of us back home?

Sturgill: It's getting better, but I just don't want anyone to get the false conclusion that it is better, because I'm worried for Texas. I'm worried for Florida. When I heard Florida was re-opening their beaches, I was just like, oh no.

Sturgill is asking kids to send her pictures they draw. She plans to put hang them up in the hospital to bring a little light to a dark place.

You can send her mail to this address:

Pamela Sturgill

3239 46th Street

Astoria, NY 11103

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Coronavirus symptoms

The symptoms of coronavirus can be similar to the flu or a bad cold. Symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Some patients also have nausea, body aches, headaches and stomach issues. Losing your sense of taste and/or smell can also be an early warning sign.

Most healthy people will have mild symptoms. A study of more than 72,000 patients by the Centers for Disease Control in China showed 80 percent of the cases there were mild.

But infections can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, according to the World Health Organization. Older people with underlying health conditions are most at risk for becoming seriously ill. However, U.S. experts are seeing a significant number of younger people being hospitalized, including some in ICU.

The CDC believes symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after being exposed.

Human coronaviruses are usually spread through...

  • The air by coughing or sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.

Help stop the spread of coronavirus

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Eat and sleep separately from your family members
  • Use different utensils and dishes
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your arm, not your hand.
  • If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash.
  • Follow social distancing

Lower your risk

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • If you are 60 or over and have an underlying health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or respiratory illnesses like asthma or COPD, the World Health Organization advises you to try to avoid crowds or places where you might interact with people who are sick.

Get complete coverage of the coronavirus by texting 'FACTS' to 713-526-1111.