Press Release

National Nurses United demands optimal COVID-19 protections, honors fallen nurses during national Nurses Week

nurses holding signs

National Nurses United (NNU), the largest union of registered nurses in the United States, is marking this year’s Nurses Week (May 6-12) 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 have lost their lives to COVID-19.

“Nurses’ Week 2020 is unlike any other, not only because it takes place in the midst of a pandemic, but also because 2020 is the World Health Organization’s international Year of the Nurse and Midwife. Yet, in a year supposedly dedicated to us, we find ourselves in more danger than ever before, as nurses are sent to the front lines to fight COVID-19 without safe personal protective equipment (PPE),” said NNU Executive Director Bonnie Castillo, RN. “This year, we cannot emphasize enough that praise is empty—even insulting—without protections.”

NNU nurses emphasize that employers regularly mark Nurses’ Week with pizza parties and donuts, while failing to meet their legal and moral responsibilities to provide safe workplaces by providing optimal personal protective equipment (PPE), safe staffing, presumptive eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits, and more. In 2020, with nurse COVID-19 deaths at 88 as of May 6, RNs say their Nurses’ Week events—including a White House action, legislative lobby days in California, an art show inspired by the courageous work of nurses during COVID-19, and a vigil to honor nurses fallen nurses—embody the push for change.

“We know that patients and the public respect and honor nurses, now more than ever as they witness the courage and dedication of nurses on the front lines,” said Castillo. “We appreciate that everyday people across America do respect us, and we call on employers to do the same by giving us the protections we need.”

National Nurses Week is marked by the following events: 

  • Nurses Week Art Show: On May 6 at 8:30 PM ET/5:30 PM PT, NNU will host an online art show on Facebook Live. The theme is #ProtectNurses: All of Our Lives Depend On It. Please RSVP here.
     
  • White House Action Honoring Nurse Deaths: On May 7 at 10 AM ET/ 7 AM PT, members will display nurses’ shoes in front of the White House to represent the nurses who have died from COVID-19 during the pandemic. 
     
  • California Lobby Days: On May 7-8, members will be paying online lobby visits to state legislators in support of bills to advance the work of nurses and protect public health. 
     
  • Honor Fallen Nurses Campaign: On May 9, NNU will launch a campaign in conjunction with the website HonorFallenNurses.org. The website honors nurses who have lost their lives during the pandemic and is a space for anyone to honor these nurses, share their memories, and take collective action. 
     
  • Mothers Day: On May 10, NNU will highlight nurses who are mothers, but are separated from their children for fear of bringing the virus home.
     
  • Facebook Live w/ National Nurses United and Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions leaders: On May 11, 6:30 PM ET/ 3:30 PM PT, nurse leaders will be talking about the different experiences nurses in Canada have compared to the US. So far, no nurses have died from COVID-19 in Canada, where they have access to safe PPE. 
     
  • National Vigil: National Nurses Week concludes on May 12, 9:30 PM ET/ 6:30 PM PT with an online candlelight vigil streamed on Facebook Live to honor our fallen nurses. 1,000 nurses are expected to show their solidarity with their colleagues by attending.