Region Phoenix MetroCentral Phoenix


Valley ICU nurse among three harassed, called 'crisis actor' at rally

Posted at 11:13 PM, Apr 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-23 02:20:07-04

PHOENIX — Protesters rallied at the Arizona State Capitol Monday, calling on state leaders to reopen the economy.

Amid a sea of angry Arizonans, there were a handful of healthcare workers, hoping to share their message.

Josh Hernandez, an ICU nurse now treating COVID-19 patients at a Valley hospital, was one of them.

"I was there to try to promote public health," he said. "There was a lot of people that were still in denial about it and I felt it was insulting for the patients that I was treating.”

Hernandez stood side by side with two of his fellow co-workers hoping to show support to continue following CDC guidelines, and stay-at-home orders.

He even helped one protester amid the chaos, who had trouble breathing during the rally. “We had to pick him up and lift him and carry him and walk him into the capitol building," he said.

Later, crowds of men and women asking Governor Doug Ducey to "Re-Open Arizona" gathered around the trio.

A video they later posted on YouTube shows some protesters shouting, chanting and asking them to leave the rally.

"Some people didn’t believe COVID existed," added Hernandez. "They thought we weren't real nurses and they called us crisis actors."

Hernandez and his co-workers documented the encounter and noted several protesters were armed.

"I was pretty intimidated," he said. "There was definitely more of them than there were of us and considering the fact that they kept getting closer to us and I definitely was, it was uncomfortable."

Hernandez says he understands the frustration as closures continue to affect many financially, but says he hopes to explain the importance of continuing to prioritize health.

"I would hope that it would help them understand that we are there for them regardless of their political views regardless of their race," said Hernandez.

"That’s what being a nurse is.”