National Nurses United Covid-19 timeline
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, National Nurses United (NNU) has led the way in advocating for and winning protections for nurses and other health care workers across the country. NNU won the first national, enforceable standard on Covid-19 to protect health care workers and our patients, including the first national mandate for respiratory protection and other personal protective equipment for health care workers caring for Covid-19 patients. NNU also helped stop the dangerous crisis standards employers used to justify unproven “decontamination” systems for reuse of single-use N95 respirators during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Learn more by following our full Covid-19 advocacy timeline below.
Jan. 30, 2020 - Leaders of Global Nurses United (GNU), an international federation of nurse and health care workers (including National Nurses United, a GNU founding member), sends a letter to the World Health Organization (WHO) demanding that it strengthen its interim guidance on infection prevention and control of the novel coronavirus.
Feb. 19, 2020 - National Nurses United (NNU) sends a letter to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urging the federal agency to immediately strengthen its Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for patients with confirmed 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) or persons under investigation for 2019-nCoV in health care settings.
Feb. 28, 2020 - California Nurses Association (CNA) and National Nurses United (NNU) release a statement that hospitals are unprepared for Covid-19, citing a UC Davis Medical Center Covid-19 case as an example of the vulnerability of U.S. hospitals to the virus and the insufficiency of current CDC guidelines.
March 2, 2020 - NNU sends a letter to the Office of the Vice President, Coronavirus Response Coordinator, and members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives demanding a quick and meaningful response to the outbreak of novel coronavirus across the nation.
March 4, 2020 - NNU sends a letter to the CDC calling on it to strengthen its protective guidance, as well as a letter to the Secretary of Labor and Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) petitioning for an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) on emerging infectious diseases in response to Covid-19.
March 5, 2020 - NNU announces the results of a nationwide survey of registered nurses, revealing that the vast majority of U.S. hospitals and health care facilities are unprepared to handle and contain cases of Covid-19.
March 11, 2020 - NNU sends a letter to the Committee on Homeland Security urging it to demand that the CDC immediately rescind and revise its guidelines which put nurses, health care workers, and patients at risk.
March 23, 2020 - NNU sends a petition with a quarter of a million signatures to congress demanding immediate protections during the Covid-19 outbreak.
March 26, 2020 - NNU condemns the U.S. Senate for failing to mandate protections for health care workers in the Covid-19 stimulus package.
March 27, 2020 - NNU announces it has filed over 125 complaints with OSHA offices in 16 states charging individual hospitals with failing to provide safe workplaces, as required by law.
April 3, 2020 - NNU sends a letter to the CDC declaring N95 decontamination and reuse is unsafe and dangerous practice, and urging the CDC and National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) to establish protective guidance that directs hospitals and other health care employers to turn to personal protective equipment (PPE) that is designed to be reusable and decontaminated safely.
April 6, 2020 - NNU rebukes federal guidance encouraging hospitals and other health systems to allow multiple reuse and/or decontamination of N95 respiratory masks that will put thousands of health care workers at grave risk.
April 8, 2020 - NNU calls on the federal government and states to provide full reporting on the demographic breakdown of the effects of the pandemic and what actions are being taken to protect historically, medically underserved communities.
April 17, 2020 - In response to the Covid-19 crisis, CNA cosponsors Assembly Bill 664 to protect California’s nurses, firefighters, police officers, and health care workers by providing presumptive eligibility for workers’ compensation during a state of emergency.
April 28, 2020 - California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (CNA/NNOC/NNU), issues a statement strongly cautioning that calls to “reopen the country” are premature, and provides criteria for the government and employers to meet in order to effectively respond to the pandemic before loosening social distancing measures.
May 4, 2020 - NNU sends a letter to the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives urging her to immediately pass a mandate for an emergency temporary OSHA standard and increased production of PPE.
May 8, 2020 - NNU marks Nurses Week 2020 with a series of actions to demand optimal Covid-19 protections for nurses, and with a 1,000-nurse online vigil to honor the nurses who lost their lives to Covid-19.
May 20, 2020 - NNU releases data from its second nationwide survey of nearly 23,000 nurses, revealing that dangerous health care workplace conditions since Covid-19 struck the U.S. and highlighting a lack of optimal PPE.
June 2, 2020 - NNU joins the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP), and Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) in strongly cautioning against premature calls to reopen the country. The nurses call on the government and employers to meet specific criteria before loosening social distancing measures any further, including ensuring nurses and other health care workers have the optimal PPE they need.
June 16, 2020 - MNA and NNU renew their calls for an immediate halt to Covid-19 mask decontamination processes because the testing of decontaminated masks fails to meet established scientific standards.
June 25, 2020 - NNU announces that areas of the country which have loosened shelter-in-place measures must close again and work harder, along with the federal government, to contain Covid-19 and protect public health. Nurses say the recent all-time high in positive cases and hospitalizations in many locations across the country underscores their demand.
July 1, 2020 - NNU sends a letter to the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis calling for reforming the national medical supply chain to effectively distribute PPE and calling on Congress to take action to mandate a federal OSHA ETS on Covid-19.
July 2, 2020 - NNU announces support of policies requiring the use of cloth face coverings, in the context of a broader public health response to Covid-19.
July 14, 2020 - With coronavirus cases establishing record infections, and hospitalization cases and deaths exploding across the U.S., NNU urges all school districts and policy makers to postpone returning to an in-person learning model.
July 25, 2020 - NNU joins with labor and community activists across Chicago to condemn the Trump administration decision to dispatch militarized federal troops to the city, instead of the critical support Chicago, like other American cities, needs in the face of an exploding pandemic and worsening economic crises.
July 27, 2020 - NNU issues a statement calling on the U.S. Senate to pass the HEROES Act, which includes a mandate for an OSHA ETS on infectious diseases to protect frontline workers during the pandemic, and legislation that would increase production of critical medical supplies, including PPE.
July 28, 2020 - NNU releases data from its third nationwide survey of more 21,000 nurses revealing that health care workplace conditions remain dangerous and nurses are afraid of infecting their families with Covid-19.
Aug. 5, 2020 - Thousands of registered nurse members of NNU hold a national day of action with more than 200 actions inside and outside hospital facilities in at least 16 states and the District of Columbia to demand that elected leaders, government, and hospital employers take immediate action to save lives.
Aug. 7, 2020 - NNU delivers a petition to Congress signed by more than half a million people demanding Congress prioritize workplace protections for nurses and other health care workers in the negotiations on a fourth stimulus package.
Aug. 24, 2020 - NNU calls on OSHA to inspect all HCA-owned-and-operated hospitals and issue citations against the hospital giant for “willful violation” of workplace safety hazards, including failing to notify workers when they’ve been exposed to Covid-19 and pushing those who are or may be Covid-19 positive, but not showing active symptoms, to continue working.
Aug. 26, 2020 - NNU condemns the Trump administration directives to the CDC to lower public safety standards on testing of people even when recently exposed to Covid-19.
Sept. 3, 2020 - NNU raises a caution flag on the Trump administration’s rush to promote a Covid-19 vaccine by late October or early November without assurances that the vaccine will meet the highest test of public safety as its top priority, not political considerations.
Sept. 22, 2020 - NNU reports that nurses are routinely denied access by employers to Covid-19 testing—even after confirmed exposures to Covid-positive patients and after they themselves have tested positive—and want assurances that they are no longer infectious and can return to work.
Sept. 28, 2020 - NNU releases a report, Sins of Omission: How Government Failures to Track Covid-19 Data Have Led to More Than 1,700 Health Care Worker Deaths and Jeopardize Public Health and a statement on Covid-19 data transparency. In both, NNU condemns the failure of federal and state governments to track and publicly report transparent, accurate, and timely data on the Covid-19 pandemic.
Oct. 2, 2020 - Following the infection of President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, NNU calls on all people in the U.S. to redouble efforts to practice the utmost safety precautions in the face of a still-deadly pandemic.
Oct. 6, 2020 - NNU sends a letter to the CDC demanding it improve and strengthen its guidance to protect nurses and other health care workers who are on the front lines of this pandemic.
Nov. 12, 2020 - NNU releases data from its fourth nationwide survey of more than 15,000 registered nurses revealing that 11 months into the pandemic, hospitals are failing to prepare for a surge of Covid-19 cases during flu season and that basic infection control and prevention measures are still lacking.
Dec. 9, 2020 - NNU sends a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Vaccine Advisory Committee calling on the FDA and the federal government to ensure that all Covid-19 vaccine candidates undergo full scientific evaluation and that only candidates that meet all criteria for public safety are granted an emergency use authorization.
Dec. 10, 2020 - NNU introduces a nurses’ proposal for a comprehensive federal plan to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
Jan. 14, 2021 - NNU applauds President-elect Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan for including many actions to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, which nurses had been urging him to take once in office.
Jan. 22, 2021 - NNU applauds and enthusiastically welcomes President Biden’s new National Strategy for the Covid-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness.
Jan. 25, 2021 - CNA issues a statement condemning the news that the state’s mandatory stay-at-home order would be lifted, with counties moving back into the color-coded, tiered reopening system.
Jan. 27, 2021 - As part of a national day of action, thousands of registered nurse and health care worker members of NNU hold hundreds of socially distanced events in more than 19 states and the District of Columbia to demand that their hospital employers put patients first above profit motives in how patient care is delivered.
Feb. 10, 2021 - In response to the Covid-19 crisis, CNA cosponsors California S.B. 213 to protect California’s frontline nurses and other health care workers by providing presumptive eligibility for workers’ compensation for injuries on the job, including exposure to Covid-19.
Feb. 23, 2021 - NNU and 44 allied unions and organizations, representing more than 13 million members and their communities, join in coalition to urge the CDC to update its Covid-19 guidance to fully reflect the latest scientific evidence regarding SARS-CoV-2 transmission through aerosols that infected people emit when they breathe, speak, cough, or sneeze.
March 3, 2021 - NNU condemns the decision of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to remove public safety measures needed to reduce infections, hospitalizations, and deaths amidst a still-virulent pandemic, a decision nurses warn will cost the lives of Texas residents.
March 9, 2021 - GNU sends a letter to the Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights of the World Trade Organization (WTO), urging that the council take immediate action “to dramatically mitigate and eventually end the catastrophic death and suffering caused by the Covid-19 pandemic” by temporarily waiving intellectual property rules “to ensure equitable and speedy vaccine production and distribution.”
March 10, 2021 - NNU announces results of its fifth nationwide survey of more than 9,200 registered nurses revealing that a year into the pandemic, registered nurses are still being placed in harm's way. RNs face continued issues ranging from unsafe staffing levels to hospital administrators failing to observe basic infection control and prevention measures—such as forced reuse of PPE—despite manufacturers’ confirming adequate supplies.
March 11, 2021 - A registered nurse member of NNU testifies before a U.S. House Education and Labor subcommittee urging the federal government to recognize aerosol transmission of Covid-19 and ensure that OSHA issues an ETS that will mandate optimal respiratory protections to prevent exposure for frontline workers.
March 12, 2021 - NNU praises President Biden’s announcement of advances in the effort to get all U.S. residents vaccinated, while nurses called for everyone to continue to practice strong safety measures, essential to achieving protection in the face of the still virulent pandemic.
March 18, 2021 - NNU’s updated report, Sins of Omission, reveals continued failures by local, state, and federal governments to track and report data on the Covid-19 deaths and infections of nurses and other health care workers as well as widespread resistance by the hospital and health care industry to provide this critical information. The March report is an update to NNU’s Sept. 2020 report of the same name.
March 21, 2021 - Saying that the advice does not recognize the vast body of scientific evidence showing Covid-19 is aerosol-transmitted and will unnecessarily put millions of schoolchildren, their families, and school staff at greater risk of contracting the virus, NNU nurses express disapproval of the CDC-issued guidance decreasing from 6 to 3 feet the minimum distance between masked students.
March 31, 2021 - NNU issues a statement saying the CDC’s recognition of aerosol transmission of Covid-19 is essential to an effective and successful pandemic response.
March 31, 2021 - CNA nurses welcome the implementation of a new law requiring hospitals to create and maintain a three-month stockpile of N95 respirators, gowns, and other PPE. CNA sponsored the bill AB 2537 requiring the new rule.
April 26, 2021 - NNU welcomes the Biden administration’s decision to take an important step toward issuing an ETS to ensure safe workplaces for nurses, and other health care and essential workers. NNU calls for quick final approval with the pandemic continuing to surge.
May 5, 2021 - NNU applauds the decision of the Biden administration to support waiving intellectual property protections to accelerate delivery of vaccines globally to aid the effort to save lives amid the still-escalating Covid-19 pandemic.
May 13, 2021 - NNU condemns new CDC guidance stating that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks, avoid crowds or large gatherings, and no longer need to isolate after exposure or get tested unless they develop symptoms.
June 2, 2021 - NNU applauds the co-chairs of the Congressional Labor Caucus for leading more than 100 members of Congress in a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to immediately issue OSHA’s ETS to protect frontline workers from Covid-19.
June 10, 2021 - NNU welcomes the new OSHA ETS on Emerging Infectious Diseases to ensure safe workplaces for nurses and other frontline health care workers as “an important step forward that will contribute to safer health care settings for workers, patients, and communities.”
June 14, 2021 - CNA urges the public to voluntarily adhere to multiple measures of protection, including the simple, cheap, and accessible practice of wearing a facemask.
July 13, 2021 - NNU sends a letter to the CDC urging the agency to update its Covid-19 guidance and reinstate “the recommendation for everyone to wear masks in public or in physical proximity to others outside their own household.”
July 27, 2021 - NNU applauds new CDC guidance stating that fully vaccinated people should resume wearing masks in public, indoor settings in areas of the country with substantial or high transmission.
Aug. 13, 2021 - NNU’s pediatric nurses emphasize that the entire country must be practicing all the multiple measures of infection control to limit spread of the virus, especially with kids already returning to school in person; low vaccination rates among adults and children under 12 still ineligible for vaccination; the more virulent Delta variant circulating in addition to a host of other cold and flu viruses; and few and fragmented public health requirements on masking, distancing, testing, contact tracing, and isolating.
Sept. 9, 2021 - NNU applauds President Biden’s announcement of a comprehensive strategy on Covid-19 as a step in the right direction to get the pandemic under control.
Sept. 22, 2021 - As governments from across the world meet at the annual U.N. General Assembly and President Biden hosts a summit on the Covid-19 response, NNU calls on the president and every world leader to immediately work together to end this pandemic.
Sept. 23, 2021 - NNU condemns the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) for voting against recommending Covid-19 vaccine booster shots for people aged 18-64 working in health care settings where Covid-19 infection and risk of transmission is high.
Sept. 24, 2021 - NNU praises CDC Director Rochelle Walensky's decision to overrule the CDC’s own advisors and endorse the use of Pfizer-BioNTech's Covid-19 booster shot for for people aged 18-64 working in health care and other settings where Covid-19 infection and risk of transmission is high.
Sept. 27, 2021 - NNU releases data from a sixth nationwide survey of more than 5,000 registered nurses revealing that employers must do more to be fully compliant with the OSHA ETS and to implement optimal standards to protect nurses and other health care workers from Covid-19.
Oct. 19, 2021 - NNU applauds OSHA for taking a critical step in protecting health care workers in Arizona, South Carolina, and Utah who had been left behind when their states failed to adopt the OSHA ETS on Covid-19 in Health Care issued in June 2021.
Oct. 22, 2021 - NNU applauds an announcement by the White House of plans to distribute Covid-19 vaccine doses to 28 million children aged 5 to 11.
Nov. 3, 2021 - NNU urges OSHA to adopt a permanent standard on Covid-19 in health care workplaces, building on the ETS adopted in June 2021.
Nov. 10, 2021 - NNU praises President Biden’s Covid-19 Health Equity Task Force and urges rapid implementation of its recommendations.
Dec. 2, 2021 - Citing the new Omicron variant, NNU urges OSHA to adopt a permanent standard on Covid-19 in health care workplaces, building on the ETS adopted in June 2021 and set to expire on Dec. 21, 2021.
Dec. 16, 2021 - NNU joins more than 40 unions and other organizations in signing a petition, along with more than 6,300 individuals, to urge OSHA to adopt a permanent standard on Covid-19 in health care workplaces. The petition also encouraged OSHA to work expediently to issue a separate, broader standard to protect all workers from workplace exposure to Covid-19 and other aerosol transmissible diseases.
Dec. 21, 2021 - NNU condemns OSHA’s failure to adopt permanent Covid-19 and infectious disease protections for health care workers.
Dec. 22, 2021 - NNU sends a letter to the CDC regarding the Omicron variant and isolation time frames urging it to follow the science and the precautionary principle by maintaining Covid-19 isolation guidance.
Dec. 23, 2021 - NNU condemns the decision by the CDC to shorten the isolation period for nurses and other workers who have tested positive for Covid-19 from 10 days to seven days and no longer requiring exposed vaccinated and boosted health care workers to quarantine.
Dec. 28, 2021 - NNU condemns the Biden administration's moves to rip away protections from health care workers and the public, warning that the CDC’s weakening of Covid-19 isolation guidelines and OSHA’s announcement that it will rescind critical Covid-19 protections for health care workers—right when the Omicron variant is exploding across the country during a winter surge–puts countless lives at risk.
Jan. 3, 2022 - With Covid-19 infection numbers exploding and pediatric hospitalizations at an all-time high, NNU calls for schools to offer remote learning in order to protect our nation's children.
Jan. 5, 2022 - NNU joins national leading labor organizations and unions representing the country’s nurses and health care workers in petitioning a federal court to order OSHA to issue a permanent standard requiring employers to protect health care workers against Covid-19.
Jan. 8, 2022 - CNA condemns the decision by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to let asymptomatic health care workers who test positive for Covid-19—or workers who have been exposed to the virus and are asymptomatic—return to work immediately without isolation or testing.
Jan. 11, 2022 - NNU applauds the 115 members of Congress who sent a letter to President Biden urging his administration to quickly issue a final permanent Covid-19 OSHA standard for health care workers and to retain the emergency temporary standard until the permanent standard takes effect.
Jan. 12, 2022 - NNU commends the 21 U.S. senators who sent a letter to President Biden and Secretary Walsh urging the Biden administration to quickly issue a final permanent Covid-19 OSHA standard for health care workers.
Jan. 13, 2022 - NNU welcomes the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the Biden administration’s authority to issue a vaccine mandate for all workers in health care facilities. At the same time, the nurses voice dismay that the Court overruled similar federal safety measures for all employees.
Jan. 13, 2022 - As part of a national day of action, thousands of registered nurse members of NNU hold actions across the country—including a candlelight vigil near the White House for nurses who lost their lives to Covid-19, and a national virtual press conference—to demand the hospital industry invest in safe staffing and that President Biden follow through on his campaign promise to prioritize public health and protect nurses.
Feb. 28, 2022 - NNU criticizes the latest CDC rollback of Covid-19 safety guidelines as a serious risk for increasing the spread of Covid-19 and prolonging the pandemic. NNU calls on the CDC to reverse the new guidelines.
March 1, 2022 - NNU sends a letter to the CDC urging it to reverse its new dangerous Covid-19 community levels metric—which guides decision-making for prevention measures for workers, schools, and the public—and to restore the previous four-tiered Covid-19 community transmission metric.
March 30, 2022 - NNU sends a letter to the CDC calling on the agency to immediately approve a recommendation for a second Covid-19 vaccine booster for nurses and other health care workers.
April 4, 2022 - NNU argues before the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on behalf of leading national labor organizations and unions representing nurses and health care workers, asking OSHA to issue a permanent standard requiring employers to protect health care workers against Covid-19, and retain the existing ETS until the permanent standard goes into effect.
April 14, 2022 - NNU releases data on its seventh nationwide survey of more than 2,500 registered nurses, revealing significant increases in staffing issues, workplace violence, and moral distress compared to NNU’s previous survey results released less than seven months prior. RNs also reported that their hospitals are still not adequately prepared for a Covid-19 surge.
April 22, 2022 - NNU issues a statement warning against the lifting of mask mandates and highlighting the critical role masks play in a multi-layered approach to infection control and to curbing Covid-19 transmission.
April 28, 2022 - NNU testifies at OSHA’s informal rulemaking hearing for occupational exposure to Covid-19 in health care settings. Nurses urge OSHA to issue a permanent standard to protect health care workers from Covid-19 and to make improvements to the temporary standard.
July 20, 2022 - NNU sends a letter to the CDC urging the agency to take immediate action to protect public health in the face of elevated transmission of Covid-19 around the country, the dominance of the extremely contagious and immune-evasive BA.5 variant, and the development of additional Omicron subvariants.
Aug. 26, 2022 - NNU issues a statement expressing disappointment in the federal court’s decision to deny its emergency petition to order OSHA to issue a permanent standard to protect health care workers against Covid-19 and to retain the emergency temporary standard until the permanent standard takes effect.
Sept. 26, 2022 - NNU sends a letter to Congress expressing its support for President Biden’s supplemental funding request for $22.4 billion for the Covid-19 pandemic response and for $4.6 billion for the mpox virus response.
Sept. 29, 2022 - NNU sends a letter to the CDC urging the agency to “recommend optimal workplace protections for nurses and other health care workers.” The letter is in response to the CDC’s policy updates which would result in decreased protections for health care workers and our patients and, as a result, increase transmission, illness, and death.
Dec. 8, 2022 - NNU applauds OSHA for sending its Covid-19 permanent standard to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review, and urges OIRA to complete its review promptly so the standard can be issued without delay.
Dec. 13, 2022 - NNU releases data from its eighth nationwide survey of more than 2,800 registered nurses which reveals continued significant issues around staffing, workplace violence, Covid-19 precautions, among other concerns.