Showering South Bay healthcare workers with love

First responders showed their appreciation for healthcare workers outside Valley Medical Center in San Jose on Wednesday, just as the CDC is shedding light on the new risks these workers are taking during the coronavirus pandemic.

About 6:30 a.m., police and firefighters from across Santa Clara County lined up their emergency vehicles outside the hospital. Some had signs, others flashed their lights and clapped. 

"It was just amazing to see this today," said Cristina Lee, an ER nurse.  "We've been going through a lot. Everyone around the world has been going through a lot. It's just so nice to get the support from the community."

Lee said that despite it being tough, it is also getting better.

"We never know what's going to happen every day. But I have some great colleagues and co-workers. We all lift each other up," she said. 

The appreciation was timed to happen during the hospital's early morning shift change, when workers on the overnight shift are leaving and others are coming in to start a 12-hour day or longer.

"This is really awesome, and really what the staff needed right now," said Jill Sproul, chief nursing officer. "Such a morale booster. But I have to say, we're part of the mutual admiration society. We love our firefighters and our police department, so we should be thanking them, also."

Sgt. Michael Low said Santa Clara County Sheriff's deputies got the idea to do this after seeing similar gestures of support in New York and Southern California.

Added Sheriff Laurie Smith: "We work with them every day, and we're so appreciative. This is one small thing we can do for them."

As of Tuesday, there are 1,666 confirmed cases of covid-19 in Santa Clara County and 45 people have died. 

The county's chief health officer, Dr. Sara Cody, echoed the very cautious optimism of public health officials in the Bay Area and the state. 

She says social distancing has worked - but it needs to continue.

"We do not want to slip back ... We've made progress," she said. "We've settled things down we need to settle things down more.  And that is why I think if we just lifted the shelter in place and went about our business ... We'd be right back where we were very very quickly." 

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control shows that in the United States, between 10 to 20 percent of coronavirus cases are health care workers.

Although the study says they tended to be hospitalized at lower rates than other patients.

But it is clear, those workers on the front lines are exposed to higher concentrations of the virus, more frequently during their shifts and that puts them at greater risk.

According to this CDC report, nationwide, as of last week, at least 27 health care workers in the United States have died from coronavirus. 

Allie Rasmus is a reporter forKTVU.  Email Allie at and follow her on Twitter@arasmusKTVU