By Christina Hager

BOSTON (CBS) – In the so-called “COVID pod” inside Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Emergency Room, the staff is feeling the second surge. “It’s a very busy day today, actually today we’re having lots and lots of COVID positive patients,” said Michael Robinson. He was the nurse in charge of the ER Tuesday.

Robinson said the tough experience frontline workers faced during the first surge last spring, helps this time around. “I don’t think the anxiety is as bad as it was six months ago. We knew so little about it. Things were changing constantly every day,” he said.

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Some things haven’t changed. “In the emergency room, we still have no visitors,” said ER nurse Karen Lewis Brownell. “I don’t want to be a bouncer. It’s really heartbreaking and hard.”

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On a positive note, nurses say they’re seeing COVID-19 patients with less serious symptoms. There are more filling the ER, and fewer in intensive care. The staff also has better access to testing, so they worry less about endangering family members when they leave work.

One thing they do worry about is a possible spike after Thanksgiving. “You put 20 people in a small room, you’re increasing your chances of getting it if someone is sick, and I believe that there is going to be a spike in the next couple of weeks,” said Robinson.

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They say they’ve found new ways to ease their stress. Pandemic puppies and exercise help, they say. “I think today’s going to be a tough day. I think there are lots of sick people,” said Robinson. “This could be another 6-8 months, we don’t know,” added Lewis Brownell. “We need to take care of ourselves.”

Christina Hager