BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — With COVID cases continuing to rise throughout Alabama due to the Omicron variant, nurses are back on the frontlines working long hours caring for those in intensive care units.

CBS 42 spoke with two local nurses that tell us it has been an uphill battle these past few weeks, but they’re remaining hopeful that this surge will pass if everyone in the community works together and does their part.

It’s been two years battling COVID in the US. First, it was the Delta Variant, and now it’s the Omicron Variant that is overwhelming hospitals.

“It’s really challenging especially with the big surges and stuff,” said Sarah Petrusnek, a pediatric nurse at Children’s of Alabama.

“It’s hard on your healthcare workers and health care friends so reach out to your friends in health care,” said Whitney Watson, a nurse practitioner at the Regional Medical Center in Anniston.

Watson and Petrusnek both work in COVID Intensive Care Units. They tell us they’ve seen firsthand how COVID is greatly impacting both children and adults.

“We are seeing a large volume of unvaccinated patients. A lot of low oxygen levels, a lot of pneumonia, some are on BiPAP which is an oxygen delivery method,” said Watson.

“It’s heartbreaking to have your sick child crying or if they’re on a ventilator they’re not crying which is even sadder for those parents to not even hear their baby cry when they are in pain,” said Petrusnek.

As frontline workers step up to care for those in their community, they are asking the public to do their part to help prevent the spread of COVID.

“Encourage everyone to get vaccinated to help prevent the spread of it because it can be much worse than other viruses for certain people and you just don’t know if you’re going to be that unlucky one who is severely affected by it,” said Petrusnek.

“If you haven’t gotten your booster yet, get boosted,” said Watson. “Like that is the number-one success factor to avoiding these new variants, getting that booster dose.”

Health leaders also recommend hand washing, wearing a mask, and staying home if you’re feeling sick. If you do have COVID symptoms you should get tested, quarantine, or isolate.

Click here for Center for Disease Control COVID exposure guidelines.