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Nurse Karen Lam Describes Challenges Of Battling COVID Pandemic And Asian Hate

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Frontline workers have been fighting COVID for more than a year, and struggling with their own issues while trying to save lives. CBS2’s Cindy Hsu met a nurse who has been on the front lines since day one, and now she feels she needs to watch her back.

Video Transcript

- Our frontline workers have been fighting COVID for more than a year now and struggling with their own issues while trying to save lives.

- Tonight we meet a nurse who's been on the front lines since day one and now she feels like she needs to watch her back. CBS2's Cindy Hsu has her story.

CINDY HSU: Karen Lam is an emergency room nurse at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx. She kept a video diary during the worst of COVID.

KAREN LAM: Today is especially hard. There's a lot of sick patients. And I feel like it's just-- it's just hard.

CINDY HSU: She lived with her parents in Bayside.

KAREN LAM: I was terrified to bring it home to my parents, especially my dad. He's older and he's just like-- he's like my whole world.

CINDY HSU: While Karen stayed in her own section of the house and took multiple precautions, her father did get COVID, but recovered without having to be hospitalized. At the same time she's fighting to save lives at Jacobi, the number of anti-Asian attacks starts going up across the country.

KAREN LAM: Am I a "healthcare hero" or am I "yellow peril?" Right, like which one am I?

CINDY HSU: Yellow peril is a racist term describing Asian people as a danger to the Western world.

KAREN LAM: It's heartbreaking, really, to think that anyone could look at me and see a threat, you know, just, like, I'm 5' 1" and 100 pounds.

CINDY HSU: She and her parents feel like they have targets on their backs.

KAREN LAM: I'm a New Yorker born and raised and for the first time in my life, I felt afraid on the subway. I never experienced such anxiety while waiting for the R train.

CINDY HSU: She says everyone can help fight hate and ignorance.

KAREN LAM: If you see something, say something. And educate yourself.

CINDY HSU: Karen says she'll keep speaking up and saving lives. In the South Bronx, Cindy Hsu, CBS2 News.