Press Release

Nation’s Largest Nurses Union Hosts National Vigil for COVID-19 Nurse Deaths

sign with candle

On Tuesday, May 12th at 9:30 PM ET / 6:30 PM PT, nurses from National Nurses United (NNU) will host a streamed, Facebook Live candlelight vigil to honor the more than 100 nurses who have lost their lives to COVID-19 while fighting for the safe care of their patients - a fatality number that has more than doubled in just the past two weeks. One thousand nurses are expected to attend to show solidarity with their colleagues and to honor fallen nurses. 

These 100-plus deaths represent about a third of total nurse deaths from COVID-19 worldwide. Although the U.S. death rate of nurses is among the highest in the world, NNU believes this is a conservative undercount as testing has not been widely available and surely missed other RNs who died from COVID-19.

We know our nurses are dying because both hospitals and our elected officials have disregarded the safety of our nurses and failed to provide them with the optimal protection to do their job safely. This event culminates a week of organizing including an action outside the White House to demand this administration and Congress do everything in their power to ensure nurses have proper PPE, lobbying state and federal lawmakers, 300+ protest actions outside of hospitals, and fighting for better Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards. 

“We are gathering to remember and honor the lives of the more than 100 nurses who put their patients above all else,” said Jean Ross, a registered nurse and president of National Nurses United. “These nurses were committed to caring for their patients as they faced the hardest moments of their lives. But, our hospitals and our elected leaders failed them. They have failed to ensure that our nurses have the proper protective equipment they need in the face of this deadly pandemic. Our nurses are not expendable. The death of each of these nurses leaves a hole in the lives of their families, in the fabric of their communities, and in the hospitals and facilities where they worked. We come together to say, enough is enough. We mourn those who have died, and we are determined to continue to fight for what we need to keep all nurses safe.”

WHO: Nurses from National Nurses United 

Bonnie Castillo, RN and executive director of NNU 
Jean Ross, RN, Deborah Burger, RN, Zenei Cortez, RN -- presidents of NNU
Several other nurses from across the country who have treated COVID-19 patients

  • Malinda Markowitz, RN
  • Cokie Giles, RN
  • Cathy Kennedy, RN

WHAT: Facebook Live Vigil for Fallen Nurses 

WHEN: Tuesday, May 12th, 9:30 PM ET / 6:30 PM PT

WHERE: The vigil will be livestreamed on NNU Executive Director, Bonnie Castillo’s Facebook page and National Nurses United’s Facebook page. The event will also be livestreamed on AFL-CIO’s Facebook page