Press Release

Nurses welcome President Biden’s program on Covid-19, urge public to follow pandemic safety measures

President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris
President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris - Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty

National Nurses United (NNU) today praised 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.

NNU also praised President Biden and Congressional Democratic leaders for the passage and signing this week of the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion package that will provide an economic lifeline for tens of millions of Americans and provide the funds for vaccines and Covid-19 testing.

“We applaud the work of President Biden and his administration in adhering to the science, and in prioritizing the key steps to combating this deadly virus,” said NNU President Zenei Triunfo-Cortez, RN. In particular, she emphasized Biden’s words that “national unity isn't just how politicians vote in Washington or what the loudest voices say on cable or online. Unity is what we do together as fellow Americans.”

“As the president indicated,” Triunfo-Cortez continued, “This is not the time to let up. Now is not the time to let up on life protections that keep our communities safe.”

“For the past year, nurses and all the public health experts have understood the key steps to reducing the spread of the virus,” she added. “Those include always wear a mask in public settings, practice social distancing, avoid large gatherings, and limit travel, especially during times like the upcoming spring break.”

“This is not the time to prematurely lift safety measures, including around masking orders, social distancing, indoor dining, large public gatherings, and other unsafe practices. With the growing spread of variants of concern, which are more contagious and may be resistant to the vaccines, the concerns of upcoming surges are very real,” Triunfo-Cortez said.

NNU and 44 allied unions and organizations, representing over 13 million members and their communities, have also called for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to fully recognize how aerosol transmission accelerates the spread of the pandemic.

Even with decreases from the record setting numbers of cases this winter, the rates of cases and deaths continue at a concerning level. Nurses on the frontlines especially recognize the danger.

In the latest national NNU RN survey released this week, 81 percent of nurses report they are forced to reuse single-use PPE, practically unchanged from the more than 80 percent who reported having to do so in NNU’s November survey. Nearly half report their hospitals are not screening all patients for Covid-19, and 39 percent of RNs have never been tested.

One nurse responded to the survey reporting, “I have had the same N95 mask since March of last year. We’re told to keep it in our locker in a paper bag.” Truinfo-Cortez called that “terrifying, and a strong indication that many hospitals continue to fail to take the safety measures that are so critical to protecting their frontline caregivers and patients.”

Nurses and other health care workers continue to die from Covid-19: at least 353 RNs among 3,424 health care workers overall, according to NNU’s daily tracking.

“We still need the public’s help to protect our patients, our co-workers, and our families,” said Marissa Lee, a Florida RN. “We will not reduce infections, hospitalizations, and deaths unless everyone helps. That means get vaccinated, but it also means wear masks, and take all the other safety measures we need to safeguard all of our communities.”