America Together Logo

Knicks City Dancer now fights on coronavirus front lines at New Jersey hospital

Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up here.

For many people globally the coronavirus pandemic seemed to turn the world upside down. For Tara Rappleyea it was time to stop the party and get in the trenches.

Tara Rappleyea (Alexandra Nahorniak-Svenski/MSG)

Tara Rappleyea (Alexandra Nahorniak-Svenski/MSG)

After the NBA’s shutdown, which started March 11, the 27-year-old stopped dancing at Madison Square Garden in New York City with the Knicks City Dancers and went to her day job as an ICU nurse at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset in Somerville, N.J..

“It seemed like it happened overnight. Our unit went from regular patients to COVID,” Rappleyea told The New York Post.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

After the NBA’s shutdown that started March 11, the 27-year-old stopped dancing at Madison Square Garden in New York City for the Knicks City Dancers. (Tess Mayer/MSG)

After the NBA’s shutdown that started March 11, the 27-year-old stopped dancing at Madison Square Garden in New York City for the Knicks City Dancers. (Tess Mayer/MSG)

One of her roles is to care for patients battling alone because her hospital has a no-visitors policy as one of the precautionary measures.

“I realize now more than ever how important it is for me to take a moment to be present and sit with my patients — especially because they can only see my eyes [because of PPE worn by the staff] — and hold their hand and talk to them to give them a sense of comfort, safety and connection,” she said.

Hard work like hers seems to be making all the difference.

She went to her day job as an ICU nurse at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset in Somerville, New Jersey. (Tess Mayer/MSG)

She went to her day job as an ICU nurse at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset in Somerville, New Jersey. (Tess Mayer/MSG)

New Jersey’s COVID-19 outbreak is stabilizing, with the number of patients leaving hospitals outpacing those being admitted, Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday.

Despite the stabilization, 177 more people died since Sunday’s update, bringing the death toll to 4,377, Murphy said. There are nearly 89,000 people with the coronavirus, he added.

For many people globally the coronavirus pandemic seemed to turn the world upside down. For Tara Rappleyea it was time to stop the party and get in the trenches. (MSG)

For many people globally the coronavirus pandemic seemed to turn the world upside down. For Tara Rappleyea it was time to stop the party and get in the trenches. (MSG)

There’s growing evidence that social distancing is helping contain the virus, according to the governor. It now takes three weeks for the number of cases to double in northern New Jersey, up from just three days over the last few weeks.

For the first time, the number of people discharged from the hospital — 583 — outpaced newly admitted COVID-19 patients, which stood at about 460.

One of her roles is to care for lonely patients battling alone because her hospital has a no-visitors policy because of precautionary measures. (Tess Mayer/MSG)

One of her roles is to care for lonely patients battling alone because her hospital has a no-visitors policy because of precautionary measures. (Tess Mayer/MSG)

Rappleyea said when medical staff do their job and win she feels best.

Whenever a COVID-19 patient is sent home, The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” plays throughout the hospital.

“You just get the chills,” Rapelyea said. “It reminds you why you are there.”

CORONAVIRUS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

She joined the Knicks City Dancers in 2016. A recent text from them made her day after a long shift in the hospital.

Tara Rappleyea joined the Knicks City Dancers in 2016. (Tess Mayer/MSG)

Tara Rappleyea joined the Knicks City Dancers in 2016. (Tess Mayer/MSG)

“It was a 17-minute video of the girls telling me how much they appreciate me. Immediately, a wave of emotion came over me,” she said. “It was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done. And it came at a moment when I really needed it.”