By: Elsie Nolan, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – Julie Bettencourt works on a COVID-19 ICU at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

She says frontline workers don’t feel as supported as they did back in the spring and she is begging the community to take precautions to avoid the virus.

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“We are burned out. A lot of us are struggling, and it’s hard,” Bettencourt said talking about the surge they all knew was coming after the holidays. She says she is seeing younger patients and on her floor they are as sick as they were back in March. “These are the sickest patients I have ever seen in my 25-year career.”

For Bettencourt, anyone who downplays the seriousness of this illness needs to see it through her eyes.

“When I hear people saying it’s a hoax, it blows my mind,” she said. “It drives me crazy. It makes me want to scream and yell. I just want to tell them to come spend a day with me. Come spend 12 hours in the COVID ICU with a nurse and tell me this is a hoax.”

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Bettencourt, and the rest of the medical community, know a lot more about the virus than they did back in the spring.

“So yes, there are success stories, but I feel like for the most part, if you make it to the ICU with COVID, the chance of you making it out, from what I’ve seen, are not as good as I would hope,” she said.

“As an ICU nurse who has been dealing with this since March, I beg the community just please, do your part. Help us. Wear your mask. Socially distance. Don’t go to parties. With COVID, you just don’t know. You don’t know what kind of COVID you are going to get. Are you going to get the asymptomatic COVID? Or are you going to get the really, really sick, ICU COVID, on the brink of death.”

Having difficult conversations with families is the hardest part according to Bettencourt.

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“I think having to call a family member and let them know that their family member has passed, I’ve had to do that more times than i have had to do in my life. It absolutely breaks my heart.”