Man attacks nurse on bus after accusing her of trying to spread COVID-19

CHICAGO, Illinois -- A nurse said she was punched in the face on a bus by a man who accused her of trying to give him COVID-19.

The nurse, who asked not to be identified, said she was attacked after heading home with a co-worker from her shift at a Chicago hospital.

"I had a dry cough, was still wearing my mask into my elbow and the gentlemen immediately reacted and accused me of coughing on him to infect him," she said.

The nurse said she apologized, and immediately identified herself as a nurse, saying she "would never intentionally cough on him."

The 31-year-old said she was still wearing her scrubs and a mask in part because she has asthma. She is not assigned to care for COVID-19 patients.

"As he was pushing the door open, he turned around and closed-hand punched me in my left eye," she said.

The Wednesday night attack happened so fast no one on the nearly empty bus had time to react.

The beating was reported to transit officials and a police report was filed.

The nurse said the incident left her with a black eye and emotionally shaken as she worries that warning about the lack of protective gear for health care workers sends the public a mixed message.

"Going to and from work in my scrubs, I often watch people take two steps back away from me, not just from the fact of social distancing, but I think the concern is that any healthcare provider is contagious themselves," she said.

She hopes sharing her ordeal will help keep everyone safe as we all deal with the threat of COVID-19.

"It's not going to stop me from coming to work every single day and taking care of the people I take care of," she said.

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