Nurses Urge Congress, White House, to Urgently Pass Covid-19 Stimulus Package and Worker Protections; Oppose Inclusion of Liability Waivers
National Nurses United (NNU), the nation’s largest union of registered nurses, is calling on the United States Congress to urgently pass a Covid-19 relief bill and President Trump to sign that bill into law. The union urges elected officials to ensure that this Covid relief bill contains much needed economic stimulus for the American people, appropriate financial support for public health programs and state and local governments, and the critical policies needed to ensure that workers are protected during the pandemic. The union cautions that any stimulus package that includes liability waivers for employers, businesses, and other institutions, would be counterproductive to pandemic control measures and would undermine efforts to reduce the spread of the virus.
“For nine months, nurses have been calling on Congress and the White House to increase the domestic production and delivery of PPE and critical medical supplies,” said NNU Executive Director Bonnie Castillo, RN. “They have failed to do this, and we still do not have the PPE we need. Since March, we’ve been calling on Congress and the White House to issue an OSHA emergency temporary standard to ensure that nurses and other frontline workers are protected from exposure to Covid. They have failed to do this too, and nurses have died as a result. This bill needs to address both issues.”
“Tens of millions of people have lost their jobs. They can’t put food on the table, they can’t pay their rent, and what little unemployment benefits that may have been available to them are quickly running out,” Castillo continued. “Our patients need the federal government to step up urgently before the winter holidays, as we move into the most deadly period yet of this pandemic.”
“We call on Congress and the White House to urgently pass and sign a comprehensive economic stimulus package to ensure that our patients and communities have the support they need to stay healthy and well during this crisis, while providing the funding needed to public health and state and local programs to control the virus, and the protections desperately needed for frontline workers. As nurses, we know that lives hang in the balance, and only Congress has the ability to help.”
The union also calls on Congress to ensure that any economic stimulus package does not include liability waivers that will protect employers, businesses, or other institutions from Covid-related lawsuits. “We have watched in horror as some elected officials have proposed far-reaching protections for institutions that put employees, patients, customers, or the public at risk of Covid-related illness or injury. Any liability waivers would be a disaster for our nation’s ability to finally get this pandemic under control. Such waivers would be counter-productive to any Covid-19 guidance or guidelines.”
“The American people are desperate for Covid relief, and this must include new stimulus payments paid directly to the American people and supplemental unemployment benefits. We need this relief so that Americans can stay home and stay safe and healthy. In doing so, we will reduce the spread of the virus, and reduce the risks to health care workers and other essential workers. As we provide this relief, we cannot take employers and businesses off the hook when they put their workers and the public at risk. The only way we will get this virus under control is by taking all necessary measures to reduce its further spread.”