Nurses to hit the streets, again, for protective coronavirus gear
NNU nurses held a "Respect RNs" sticker up action to demand an end to abusive management at John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County, in Chicago, Illinois. Frontline health care workers ALWAYS deserve respect on the job... especially during a pandemic! NNU Facebook

OAKLAND, Calif.—The nation’s nurses will hit the streets, again, on August 5, to demand Congress force the GOP Trump administration to order U.S. industry to make enough personal protective equipment (PPE) against the coronavirus, and to force firms to protect their workers on the job.

The demonstrations will be at 200 hospitals, half of them inside and half outside, from coast to coast. Most of the outdoor rallies will be at hospitals up and down California, where the nurses, RNs who are members of National Nurses United, have had to cope with a renewed flood of pandemic-driven patients. California leads the nation in cases.

There will also be nine outdoor demonstrations in Chicago, including one at Stroger (Cook County) General Hospital and two more in Hyde Park, at Provident on East 51st Street, and at the University of Chicago’s hospitals complex, all at 3:30 p.m. Central Time.

The nurses will also campaign outside the Veterans Affairs Medical Center’s Lower East Side annex in Manhattan, and at hospitals in Tampa and Miami, plus six others in Florida, and hospitals in Georgia, Kansas City, Mo., Leawood, Kansas, Corpus Christi and El Paso, Texas, Asheville, N.C., and Henderson and Reno, Nev. The Minnesota Nurses Association will sponsor protests in the Twin Cities.

The object, like those of other marchers nationwide, is to force the Republican-run Senate to get off its ass, defy its bosses—GOP President Donald Trump and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.—and approve the House-passed Heroes Act, HR6800.

“Nurses know this country’s rampant social, economic, and racial injustice has been killing our patients all along. COVID-19 is just forcing us as a society to face these problems,” said Bonnie Castillo, RN, and NNU executive director, in announcing the demonstrations, using the coronavirus’s official name.

“These recent COVID surges and uncontrolled infections and deaths, the failure of employers to protect our nurses and other workers, the outrageously high rates of unemployment and hunger, the totalitarian crackdown on protesters–every crisis we are seeing now can be traced back to our failure to value human lives over profit,” she added.

The measure includes those two mandates important to NNU’s members and other frontline workers in the war against the coronavirus. The PPE mandate orders Trump to use the Defense Production Act to force industries to convert factories to making PPE.

The other mandate orders Trump’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration to immediately issue an emergency rule ordering firms, especially hospitals and nursing homes, to develop and implement anti-virus protection plans, now. While HR6800 has those two orders, McConnell’s alternative doesn’t.

Cumulatively, 4.73 million people have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic was officially declared on March 13. And 155,814 have died as of 8:30 a.m. on August 4, according to the most-authoritative data, from Johns Hopkins University. That includes at least 164 RNs, NNU says.

“Nurses are still at risk,” said Minnesota Nurses Association President Mary Turner, an intensive care unit RN. “We still reuse PPE that was meant to be discarded. We still care for COVID-19 patients and non-COVID patients at the same time. And we still struggle to protect ourselves so we can protect our patients.“

“COVID has exposed everything that has been wrong with our system,” said Zenei Cortez, RN and a co-president of NNU. “The old way was a huge failure. Now is the time to re-envision a world based on nurses’ values of caring, compassion, and community.”


CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.

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