Nurses from out-of-state help with Nebraska COVID-19 testing

Nebraska News

OMAHA, Neb. (KETV) – Nebraska is using some out-of-state help to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

Nurses and medical professionals in personal protective gear filled the old Sears by 72nd and Dodge.

“This is a major operation. We’re testing between 800 to 1,000 people,” said Ryan Zappia, a nurse from California.

Weeks ago, Zappia left his family behind in California to come to Nebraska and help with
COVID-19 testing.

“If I have to put myself in harm’s way to protect someone else, I will and I have,” he said.

Zappia spends his day leading the team of nurses. For him, the pandemic hits home.

“My grandmother, who raised me in my house, who was a loving, giving woman, was in a care facility in California, doing well,” he said.

Zappia said he lost his grandmother to COVID-19 after a staff member brought the virus inside.

“Unfortunately, not myself, nor any of my family members could be with her because nobody’s allowed in the hospital. She had to die alone, okay, when she gave me life for all my years,” Zappia.

Now, Zappia works side-by-side with those on the front lines in hopes of saving others.

Like Zappia, Samantha Downing comes from out of state.

Before driving five and a half hours to test people in Nebraska, she was treating COVID-19 patients at a hospital in Springfield, Missouri.

“I don’t view it as putting myself at risk. I view it as helping others protect themselves, to prevent it from spreading to others,” said Downing.

She knows her skills are needed right now.

“If I could help prevent somebody going through that and being alone throughout the whole process, it’s a no-brainer for me,” said Downing.

As for Zappia, he expects to continue leading nurses throughout the summer.

“The truth is, it’s very important, not only to be here, but to this country and this world to make sure we know what we’re dealing with when it comes to COVID,” said Zappia.

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