If President Trump looked out his front window Thursday morning, he would have seen eighty-eight pairs of white nurses’ shoes lined up on the sidewalk in front of the White House. They represented each nurse killed so far by the coronavirus pandemic. They were also a message from National Nurses United that nurses need personal protective equipment (PPE) – especially N95 masks and respirators – to help protect themselves, their colleagues and loved ones while they treat coronavirus sufferers.
The NNU members, in town for National Nurses Week, said they aren’t getting the help they need from the GOP Trump administration’s inept – or worse – response to the pandemic. The 88 nurses are among the 73,275 people the coronavirus has killed nationwide.
"We stand here today with heavy hearts but with fierce determination," said Stephanie Simms, an RN from MedStar Washington Hospital Center. "Every nurse, on every shift, in every hospital is putting themselves on the line during this pandemic. It is time for the country to step up and protect them as they fight to protect us."
“The next COVID-19 relief package is being discussed and finalized, and we are demanding senators include in the bill the critical protections to keep nurses safe,” the union of 155,000 RNs nationwide said.
They also identified 10 key senators for people to lobby to get the PPE and other protections – including a temporary federal standard mandating health care facilities craft and implement worker protection plans – into the legislation.
And they demanded lawmakers order Trump to fully use the Defense Production Act to order civilian factories converted into PPE production.
“A relief package could be finalized in a matter of days, so we don’t have much time to put pressure on these senators to protect nurses,” the union warned.
- Mark Gruenberg, PAI News; photo by Rick Reinhard, courtesy NNU