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Nurses In New York City Join Nationwide ‘Call For Proper Protections Against COVID-19’

Published Thursday, August 6, 2020
by Steve Wishnia/
Nurses In New York City Join Nationwide ‘Call For Proper Protections Against COVID-19’

(NEW YORK CITY) – “We ‘need to have proper’ PPE (Personal Protection Equipment),” long-time Nurse Stephanie McGrath said at a small lunch-hour rally outside the Veterans Administration hospital on East 23rd Street Wednesday (August 5th). “The VA (Veterans Administration) supplies ‘are below standards.’”

The rally was part of a national day of protest organized by National Nurses United (NNU), with actions at more than 200 Health Care Facilities, including about 20 hospitals in the Kaiser Chain in California, the Cook County Department of Public Health offices in Chicago, and Mission Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina, where Nurses will vote later this month on whether to be represented by NNU.

“We’re ‘running out of gowns, we’re running out of head protection, we’re running out of foot protection,’” NNU LOCAL LEADER Raymond Fletcher told the rally. “Once ‘we get infected and get sick, who’s going to take care of the patients?’”

The Union has three main demands: That Republican President Donald Trump invoke the Defense Production Act to require industry to produce Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as masks; That the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) establish an Emergency Temporary Standard on infectious diseases; and that the Senate pass the HEROES (Health And Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions) Act, a Bill approved by the House in May that includes the two previous demands and would also provide economic aid in the form of cash payments, extended Unemployment Benefits, aid paying rent, and subsidies to cover child care.

Masks are a particular complaint.

“These masks ‘are pretty, but they don’t do the job,’” said Lisa, a Medical-Surgical Nurse who did not want to give her last name.

A Diagnostic Technician who asked to be identified as Jasmine said the hospital is only issuing her three masks a week.

“Nurses ‘are telling me they can smell everything,’” Fletcher told LaborPress. “When you’re wearing an N95, ‘the only thing you’re supposed to smell is your breath.’”

Lora Logan, another Medical-Surgical Nurse, held up two N95 masks, a turquoise 3M 1860 model and a pale-blue Moldex.

The 3M 1860, she says, “is ‘very uncomfortable, but very effective.’”

The other, which the hospital is using now, is not effective

“You ‘can’t mold them to fit your face,’” she explains. “Any ‘illness that’s contagious, you need a mask that seals around your face properly.’  This ‘goes beyond’ COVID.”

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