ARIZONA NEWS

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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A local caregiver counter protester, right, points to a protester to keep a safe social distance at a rally at the capitol 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) Protesters rally at the state Capitol 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) Arizona Department of Public Safety police officers watch protesters rally at the state Capitol 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) Protesters rally at the state Capitol 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) Protesters listen to speakers at a rally at the state Capitol 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) Caregivers stand in front of protesters at the main entrance to the Arizona Capitol 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) Protesters rally at the Capitol 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) A protester, right, in support of ending the stay-at-home orders drives past the Arizona Capitol as he yells at a counter-protesting caregiver, left, at a rally at the capitol 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) Protesters rally at the Capitol 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) A protester attends a rally at the state Capitol 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) Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon, with unidentified bodyguards behind him, addresses protesters at the state Capitol in Cheyenne on Monday, April 20, 2020. The crowd of about 100 people were protesting business and school shutdowns to limit the spread of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Mead Gruver) A protester, right, attending rally at the Capitol to 're-open' Arizona against the governor's stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus argues with a caregiver, left, about the protest Monday, April 20, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) A Department of Public Safety police officer stands in front of the Arizona House of Representatives building as protesters rally at the state Capitol 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) Counter-protesting caregivers stand across from a protester rallying at the state Capitol 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) Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon, right, with an unidentified bodyguard left, reads a prayer to protesters at the state Capitol in Cheyenne on Monday, April 20, 2020. The crowd of about 100 people were protesting school and business shutdowns to limit the spread of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Mead Gruver) Protesters carry weapons at a rally at the state Capitol 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) A protester shouts at a rally at the Capitol 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) Protesters rally at the state Capitol 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) A caregiver 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) Protesters drive by in support of a rally at the state Capitol 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) Protesters carrying weapons rally at the state Capitol 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) Protesters rally at the state Capitol 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) A counter-demonstrating caregiver gets a thumbs up from a protester driving in support of a rally at the state Capitol 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) Protesters carrying weapons rally at the state Capitol 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) Protesters carrying weapons rally at the state Capitol 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) (KTAR News Photo/Taylor Kinnerup)
(KTAR News Photo/Taylor Kinnerup)
(KTAR News Photo/Taylor Kinnerup)
(KTAR News Photo/Taylor Kinnerup)
(KTAR News Photo/Taylor Kinnerup)
(KTAR News Photo/Taylor Kinnerup)
(KTAR News Photo/Peter Samore) (KTAR News Photo/Peter Samore) (KTAR News Photo/Peter Samore) (KTAR News Photo/Peter Samore) (KTAR News Photo/Taylor Kinnerup) (KTAR News Photo/Taylor Kinnerup) (Twitter Screenshot/@@ktarpetersamore) (KTAR News Photo/Taylor Kinnerup) (KTAR News Photo/Taylor Kinnerup) (KTAR News Photo/Taylor Kinnerup) (KTAR News Photo/Taylor Kinnerup)

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Phoenix nurse says she felt like enemy at coronavirus restriction protest