WASHINGTON — Registered Nurses protested at Lafayette Park Thursday morning, during National Nurses Appreciation Week, to honor the lives of nurses who've lost their lives to COVID-19.
Protesters read the names of 88 nurses who died of coronavirus after saving the lives of many people who were diagnosed with the illness. They also placed 88 nurse shoes on the lawn at Lafeyette Park as a symbolic way to honor their fellow colleagues.
Nurses with the National Nurses United (NNU), the largest nurses union in the nation, is demanding that the administration do more to protect front line health care workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
"We are here today to say that nurses are not being valued by our employers and our government who are failing to provide us safe workplaces and optimal protections as we care for others during the COVID-19 pandemic," said Stephanie Sims, a Registered Nurse and member of the NNU.
According to the NNU, the union petitioned the Trump administration's Occupational Safety and Health Administration on March 4 to create a temporary emergency standard so that health care workers are provided with the necessary PPE, including N95 respirators, face shields, gowns, gloves and shoe coverings, as well as ventilators and COVID-19 testing kits. They said they did not receive a response to their request.
Two weeks before, members of the NNU practiced social distancing at Lafeyette Park and read aloud the names of 46 U.S. nurses who died of COVID-19 due to the lack of PPE.
They did the same thing on April 17 when they joined forces with the progressive group, MoveOn.org to raise the same concerns. During the protest, members planted 1,000 signs in front of the Capitol representing the 18 million health care workers battling COVID-19.
The organizers estimate there are 18 million doctors, nurses, and home nursing aides around the nation, so each sign represented 18,000 workers.
As of April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates at least 9,200 health care workers have gotten sick, and at least 27 have died.