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 (WJW) — It was one of the deadliest days since the start of the outbreak.

On April 17 alone, 540 people died of COVID-19 in New York City.

The following day, LaShawn Hicks boarded a plane in Cleveland, traveling 500 miles away from home to help.

“I have two daughters and they said, what? Wait, what?”

The Cleveland Heights resident and former Cleveland paramedic has been a registered nurse since 2006, working as a nursing instructor and as a contracted employee at University Hospitals.

But when Ohio Governor Mike DeWine closed all non-essential businesses and canceled elective medical procedures, she said it affected the entire department. “It affected the actual employees at University Hospitals that worked there. Their hours changed; they began to get a reduction in hours.”

LaShawn is now one of 4,000 nurses who were sent to New York City by Krucial Staffing, an emergency preparedness agency which sends personnel to cover hurricanes, labor strikes and now COVID-19.

“I went sight unseen, no idea what was going to happen when I got here, what the process was.”

Working overnights in the ER of an undisclosed hospital near Times Square, Hicks has treated critically ill patients, including many who have recovered.

“Their lives are in our hands and it’s true, everything you see on TV is true. The family members can’t be there to support them. Thanks to our governor, we’ve been able to control and flatten the curve so that’s the good thing about Cleveland and I would say to the people of Cleveland, just keep doing what you’re doing; please stay at home because this is really real.”

In New York for fifteen days, LaShawn’s original mission was to work 21 days straight then return home to Northeast Ohio.

She has now extended her contract through July.

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