A Christmas tree stands outside the intensive care room where a man stricken by COVID-19 lies unconscious, a machine breathing for him, as nurse Carla Fallin peers inside. While friends and neighbors all around them indulge in Christmas parades, shopping outings and tree lightings during a pandemic that has killed more than 300,000 Americans, nurses and doctors who've spent agonizing months caring for the ill are doing what they can to get through a holiday that many fear will only spread disease further.

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