Press Release

San Diego VA Medical Center nurses to join 139 nationwide ‘May Day’ actions demanding COVID-19 protections for nurses, health care workers

Nurse holds "Protect Nurses" sign

San Diego VA nurses will be marking Friday, May 1—International Workers Day, also known as “May Day”—with lunch time action calling for optimal COVID-19 protections. This local action is part of nurse actions taking place at 139 hospitals, in 13 states, representing more than 95,540 nurses, according to National Nurses United (NNU).

Nurses say their demand for optimal personal protective equipment (PPE) is underscored by the fact that more than 60 nurses across the country have died of COVID-19; although, due to lack of testing, the number is surely higher.

“Nurses signed up to care for their patients. They did not sign up to sacrifice their lives on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said NNU Executive Director Bonnie Castillo, RN. “On this day that celebrates the labor movement and working people, union nurses are standing up to demand the protections they need now!”

“National Nurses United nurses at the San Diego VA facility are holding an action to bring attention to the fact that we still do not have an adequate amount of personal protective equipment, especially the N95 respirators, for our RNs working directly with COVID-19 positive patients and those patients who need to be ruled out for having COVID-19. Furthermore, we are appalled at the fact that we aren’t being notified when we have been exposed to COVID-19 positive patients or staff. We are demanding that we be notified, tested, and placed on paid quarantine leave upon exposure to COVID-19 positive or presumptive patients and staff,said Marie Jamito, RN, NNU member.

National Nurses United registered nurse members are calling on employers and the government to provide nurses and other health care workers with the highest level of protections, including powered air-purifying respirators, and single use of N95s and coveralls that incorporate head coverings and shoe coverings, and gloves. Otherwise, hospitals will remain fomites for infection, say NNU RNs, and nurses and health care workers will continue to get sick and sidelined, die, and be unable to care for the next wave of patients.

Nurses say it’s clear that the industry thinks they have produced an acceptable solution to the PPE shortage by implementing widespread use of various N95 decontamination systems. This is unacceptable and unsafe, say nurses, who are calling on President Trump to activate the Defense Production Act to order the mass production of PPE. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) must also pass an emergency temporary standard to mandate that healthcare employers provide protections needed for COVID-19, say nurses.

May Day action will take place Friday, May 1 at:

San Diego VA Medical Center

   3350 La Jolla Village Drive, San Diego, CA 92161

   (On the sidewalk by the Emergency Room entrance)

   12:10 p.m.

   Contact: Jonathan Weitz, (646) 460-7734

National Nurses United is the largest and fastest growing union of registered nurses in the U.S. with more than 150,000 members nationwide. NNU plays a leadership role in safeguarding the health and safety of RNs and their patients and has won landmark legislation in the areas of staffing, safe patient handling, infectious disease and workplace violence prevention.