On Tuesday morning, more than 20 nurses protested for additional personal protective equipment at Lafayette Park in front of the White House. The protest began at 9:30am and continued into the afternoon.
“We have a federal government that is failing nurses,” says an organizer during a live stream of the event. “There have been three COVID-19 packages passed and Congress has not earmarked any COVID funds for healthcare workers PPEs in any of those packages.”
Protesters carried signs demanding protection for “Nurses, Patients, [and] Public Health” in addition to photographs of the 48 registered nurses who have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. More than 9,000 health care workers have been infected with the coronavirus, according to the Washington Post.
The protest was organized by National Nurses United, the largest registered nurses union in the country. Per a press release issued by NNU, the protest was organized, “to call attention to the tens of thousands of health care workers nationwide who have become infected with COVID-19 due to lack of personal protective equipment (PPE).”
A petition is available online in support of NNU’s demands.
Wearing scrubs and face masks, the protesters stood six feet apart throughout much of the event. Some nurses wore bandanas to cover their faces. CDC guidelines suggest that healthcare personnel, “might use homemade masks (e.g., bandana, scarf) for care of patients with COVID-19 as a last resort.” Bandanas, scarves, and homemade masks are not considered PPE because “their capability to protect [healthcare professionals] is unknown.”
The protest was recorded live via Facebook. The live stream has been viewed more than 27,000 times.
Activists at the event also called for President Trump to “fully invoke” the Defense Production Act and begin mass production of PPE. PPE includes not only ventilators and masks, but also N-95 respirators, gowns, gloves, shoe covers, and COVID-19 testing kits. On April 2, President Trump invoked the DPA to induce production of “the number of N-95 respirators that the [Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency] determines to be appropriate.”
Over the last few weeks, protests against stay-at-home orders have materialized around the country. In Michigan, protesters stood on the steps of the capitol in Lansing, brandishing assault-style weapons and chanting “lock her up” in reference to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. At a protest in Denver, two anti-protesters in scrubs stood in a crosswalk to block a caravan of protesters demanding the state “reopen.”
Washington, DC is under a stay-at-home order until May 15 following an extension issued on April 15 by Mayor Muriel Bowser.