April 3, 2020 -- At least 82,000 health care workers have volunteered so far to bolster New York's fight against the new coronavirus.
Health officials said the respondents to the state's call for a reserve force of medical workers include recent retirees, health care professionals who can take time from their regular jobs, and people between jobs, the Associated Press reported.
They've signed up even though they face a difficult and dangerous situation.
"Whatever it is that they need, I'm willing to do," Jerry Kops, a licensed nurse on Long Island, told the AP.
He was on tour as a musician in the Blue Man Group before its North American tour was sidelined by the coronavirus shutdown.
"I keep thinking about my old co-workers and friends that are still in nursing. And to me, it's like if they have to be there, I should be there too," Kops told the AP. "If it means being at a testing site, cool. If it means being relief staff for RNs that are overworked right now in hospitals, cool."
Similar recruiting efforts are underway in other states -- including California, Washington, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Oregon, Virginia, New Jersey, North Dakota and Washington D.C. -- and by the Army and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Healthcare workers have also been brought to New York by staffing agencies, and they found a hospital system in dire straits.
"I have never seen so many human beings in an ER at one time in my entire life," said Liz Schaffer, a nurse from St. Paul, Minnesota, who had her first shift Tuesday at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan.
"Shoulder to shoulder. It is a sight I never thought I would see. Patients are dying every day. Every single day," she told the AP.