Doctors say this surge could have been avoided if more people were vaccinated and continued following preventive measures such as masking and physically distancing. One infectious disease specialist at the University of North Carolina likened going to work to “watching the same house burn down time and time again.” The mental health harm to healthcare workers who must watch people die who likely would not have had they been vaccinated is difficult to quantify, but the relentless nature of the pandemic will no doubt have long-term impacts on medical care in the US. The nursing shortage is not new, but the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problem, testing the physical and mental health of the nation’s nurses as patients flood emergency departments and fill hospital beds amid a fourth surge of cases driven by the Delta variant. More than a year and a half into the pandemic, myriad nurses have retired, made career shifts, taken higher paying jobs with staffing agencies or hospitals with more resources, increasing staffing shortages and contributing to burnout among all healthcare workers. Nurses also say they are angered that many people—in the general public and among their ranks—refuse to get vaccinated or wear masks. Additionally, more than 1,200 nurses have died of COVID-19.