Phoenix nurse says she felt like enemy at coronavirus restriction protest

Apr 24, 2020, 1:00 PM | Updated: 6:33 pm

Lauren Leander stands in front of the Arizona Capitol as protesters surround her at a rally to 're-...

Lauren Leander stands in front of the Arizona Capitol as protesters surround her at a rally to 're-open' Arizona against the governor's stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus Monday, April 20, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — A Phoenix nurse said Friday she was disheartened about the way protesters treated her earlier this week at a rally against Arizona’s coronavirus restrictions.

“As a nurse, it’s the first time I’ve ever felt like the enemy,” Lauren Leander told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Broomhead Show.

Leander was one of several nurses featured in viral photos of the Monday protest, which was aimed at persuading Gov. Doug Ducey to reopen the state in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.

She said she attended the protest in support of her patients and health care workers who are fighting the disease, which had infected 6,045 and killed 266 in Arizona as of Friday morning.

“I don’t think they were yelling at me just as a nurse, but truly yelling at me as a representation of the health care system or the government or, you know, these other ideas they’ve brought to the table,” Leander added.

“It was very disheartening because it doesn’t align with who we are as health care workers.”

Photos from the protest show people verbally attacking Leander and other health care professionals, who arrived wearing scrubs and personal protective equipment.

Hundreds of protesters gathered at the Capitol to argue Arizona was ready to reopen despite no guidance of that nature coming from state officials.

“We disagreed with them. This is not the way to reopen the country,” Leander said. “Stay at home, follow these rules and let us help us help you.”

Leander said the hospital she works at is still seeing peaks and valleys in case numbers.

Arizona’s stay-at-home order, which went into effect March 31 and was designed to reduce the spread of coronavirus, is set to expire April 30.

Ducey told The Broomhead Show on Thursday morning he has three options to weigh: let the order expire, extend it in its current form or modify it. He said he’ll announce a decision next week.

Leander said she isn’t holding any ill will toward the people who spoke out against her and wouldn’t hesitate to treat them.

“If these people were to show up in my ICU tomorrow, we would care for them with open arms in a heartbeat,” Leander said.

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Phoenix nurse says she felt like enemy at coronavirus restriction protest