Nurses Urge Congress for More Protection During COVID-19

August 11, 2020
Brielle Benyon

More than 500,000 people signed a petition demanding better protection for nurses and other health care providers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

National Nurses United (NNU) — the largest union of registered nurses in the United States – delivered a petition to the House of Representatives and Senate demanding that Congress pass legislation to better protect nurses during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

The petition, which had more than 500,000 signatures, was delivered on Monday and asked that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issue an emergency temporary standard that would protect frontline workers during the pandemic. Additionally, they asked for legislation to be passed that would ensure that the Defense Production Act was used to increase the production of personal protective equipment (PPE) and ensure efficient and transparent delivery of much-needed medical supplies.

“Nurses and other frontline workers have been calling out for Congress, the White House, and our employers to get us the personal protective equipment that we need, and those cries have fallen on deaf ears. We demand that Congress ensure that the fourth stimulus package they are currently negotiating includes legislation that will ensure that nurses get the PPE we desperately need,” said Zenei Cortez, RN a president of National Nurses United, in a statement.

The petition was sponsored by NNU, Be A Hero, Daily Kos, Democracy for America, Justice Democrats, People’s Action, Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), Social Security Works, and Women’s March.

This is not the first time health care workers have turned to Congress in the midst of COVID-19. Earlier this spring, the Student Loan Forgiveness for Frontline Health Workers act was introduced into the House of Representatives with the goal of decreasing or eliminating student debt for nurses and other providers providing coronavirus-related care.

“For more than 6 months, nurses across this country have been caring for patients in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic without the protections that would prevent exposure to the virus,” Cortez said, noting that more than 164 registered nurses have died during the pandemic.

“Our country could have saved many of their lives if we got them the PPE that they needed. It is far past time for Congress to prioritize the health and safety of our frontline workers.”