COVID-19: National Nurses United to hold National Day of Action

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[National Nurses United Protests]
Nurse Bonnie Castillo: “Nurses know that 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"
Photo: National Nurses United

On Wednesday, August 5, National Nurses United will hold protests across the country to demand governmental action on COVID-19.

As first-hand witnesses and actual victims during this COVID-19 crisis of a health care and economic system that prioritizes money over people, registered nurse members of National Nurses United (NNU) are holding more than 200 protests across the United States Aug. 5 to demand that our elected leaders, government, and hospital employers take immediate action to save lives.

In New York, a protest will be held at the New York Harbor Healthcare System, 423 East 23rd Street from 12 p.m.-1 p.m.

Nurses advocate for their patients at all levels. Inside hospital walls, nurses want employers to protect nurses, other health care workers, and patients by following proper infection control practices, which include providing optimal personal protective equipment (PPE) and a safe workload of patients. Outside hospital walls, nurses want Congress to help struggling households by urgently passing legislation to extend COVID economic benefits that expired in July, for our government to invest in the public health of our communities, and for a dismantling of the structural racism that prematurely ends the lives of Black, Indigenous, and people of color who are disproportionately impacted by the COVID pandemic.

RNs are demanding that the Senate pass the HEROES Act, a pending bill they are backing that would not only protect health care and other essential workers by ensuring domestic production of PPE through the Defense Production Act and by mandating that the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration establish an emergency temporary standard on infectious diseases, but also provide desperately needed economic help in the form of cash payments, extended unemployment benefits, and daycare subsidies through the end of 2020 to families on the brink.

“Nurses know that 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. “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.”

Nurses at the New York Harbor Healthcare System are demanding that hospital management be transparent and involve registered nurses in ongoing planning related to COVID. Additionally, RNs are demanding they have access to safe protective equipment and are also insisting that VA management permanently staff the hospital appropriately so that the veterans receive optimal care.

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

National Nurses United is the largest and fastest-growing union and professional association of registered nurses in the United States, with more than 155,000 members nationwide.

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