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  1. All Eyes

On the front lines in Florida against an ‘invisible enemy’

A photo essay by visual journalist Kinfay Moroti

At Lee Health in Southwest Florida, the COVID intensive care unit is surprisingly quiet. The ventilators whoosh rhythmically as nurses monitor vitals, adjust fluids and carefully reposition patients.

Outside the rooms, they turn their protective gear inside out and get back to the fight.

In Florida, the death toll is approaching 2,000, and there have been more than 43,000 cases of the coronavirus. Across the nation, more people have died from COVID-19 than from six U.S. wars combined.

The frontlines are at local hospitals, where doctors and nurses try to ease suffering, comfort patients who are alone and save those they can. The virus attacks the respiratory system without warning. It is like the wind, invisible and powerful.

Kinfay Moroti, who photographed the Iraq War, gained rare access at Lee Health in March and April, documenting the medical staff and its efforts. He gowned up, used his own N95 mask and spent several hours in the ICU. Here is what he saw.

Registered nurse Robert Atchison cares for a COVID-19 patient recently in the intensive care unit at Gulf Coast Medical Center in Fort Myers, Florida. "We're saving everyone we can," Atchison said.
A Gulf Coast Medical Center nurse prepares ventilators for use in the intensive care unit of the hospital in Fort Myers, Florida.
A COVID-19 patient receives support from a ventilator in a negative pressure room (NPR) at Gulf Coast Medical Center in Fort Myers, Florida. NPRs help prevent cross-contamination from room to room. The room's ventilation system generates pressure lower than that of the surroundings, allowing air to flow in but not out.
A COVID-19 patient is cared for by registered nurse, Aubry Sander, in a negative pressure room (NPR) at Gulf Coast Medical Center in Fort Myers, Florida.
Advance provider Brittiany Garrett (cq) listens intently to a coworker’s question about a COVID-19 test sample at a mobile testing site in Fort Myers, Florida. The increasing number of people being tested requires nurses to pay extreme attention to detail when gathering and transporting test samples.
"Yes. I will pray for you," Chaplin Michael Schorin tells a COVID-19 patient who requested spiritual comfort recently at Gulf Coast Medical Center. Schorin says he's been praying a lot lately. "God hasn't forgotten you," he told the patient before leaving.
Registered nurse Angela Riinehart, right, guides a potential COVID-19 patient through a virtual consultation with a doctor recently inside a triage tent outside Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers, Florida. The tents and virtual consults help prevent the virus from spreading into the emergency room and main hospital.
Bags containing sterilized N95 masks await pickup by nurses and doctors recently at Gulf Coast Medical Center in Fort Myers, Florida. Masks can be recycled twice before they are thrown away.
Dr. Karen Calkins, left, and Kathy Richards-Bessshare give COVID-19 testing updates on a conference call recently at a mobile testing site in a park in Cape Coral, Florida.
After comforting a woman she swabbed for COVID-19 testing, registered nurse Jenna Puckett takes a momentary rest before resuming testing recently at a mobile testing site in Cape Coral, Florida. "She was afraid and overwhelmed," Puckett said of the woman she tested. "She just needed someone to listen."
Physician assistant Allison Ridgway (cq) reads a COVID-19 patient's x-ray recently at Gulf Coast Medical Center in Fort Myers, Florida
Nurses at a mobile testing site in Fort Myers, Florida, prepare a COVID-19 swab for testing.
Emergency room nurse Tristan Manbevers checks in on a woman that is worried she has COVID-19 at Gulf Coast Medical Center in Fort Myers, Florida.
Monitoring equipment cords from outside a COVID-19 patient's room are pushed under the door to registered nurse Aubrey Sander in the intensive care unit at Gulf Coast Medical Center in Fort Myers, Florida recently. This is done to reduce the number of times a patient's door is opened and helps prevent cross-contamination.
A patient with COVID-19 symptoms is prepared for admission by emergency room nurses recently at Gulf Coast Medical Center in Fort Myers, Florida.
Registered nurse Angela Riinehart examines a potential COVID-19 patient recently inside a triage tent outside Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers, Florida. The tents help prevent the virus from spreading into the emergency room and main hospital.
Lee Memorial Hospital’s Dr. Scott Wolf thanks the Fort Myers Police Department for honoring healthcare workers recently outside the hospital in Fort Myers, Florida.
A Lee Memorial Hospital nurse gives a thumbs up to the Fort Myers Police Department recently for honoring health care workers outside the hospital in Fort Myers, Florida.

Visual journalist Kinfay Moroti is a partner at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation in Fort Myers, Florida. Connect with him at 239-476-2080. Email: hi@hopefulimages.com. Facebook: Kinfay Moroti. Instagram: @Kinfay.

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