Nurses in the United States on Thursday, stomped the White House to read aloud the names of health-care workers who have died fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
Before they read the names, before they addressed a small gaggle of news reporters who had gathered to hear them speak, the nurses lined the red brick walkway that runs through Lafayette Square with empty white Nurses’ shoes.
“We ask you to imagine the nurse who would have walked in these shoes,” said Stephanie Sims, a registered nurse from the District.
“Know that these shoes stand for someone who woke up in the morning — or maybe in the afternoon or the middle of the night — who pulled on their scrubs, kissed their children or other loved ones goodbye and headed to work, knowing they were walking into danger.”
The protest, organized by National Nurses United, the largest nurses’ union in the country, was the second in as many weeks to address the White House head on.
Nurses present said they were there to honor their colleagues in celebration of National Nurses Week and bring their continued pleas for more protective equipment to lawmakers.
More than 9,000 health-care workers in the United States have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those numbers are believed to be an undercount of infections because of a lack of tests or barriers to getting tested in many areas.
For weeks, health-care providers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and rehabilitation centers have begged government agencies to provide them with protective gear — including N95 respirator masks, face shields and gowns. The nurses said this equipment can make the difference between life and death for health-care providers, as well as their vulnerable patients.
“How many of these nurses worked in hospitals that were long on patients but short on N95 respirators?” Sims asked.
“How many of these nurses were failed by chaotic and haphazard protocols which left them vulnerable to exposure and illness? How many of these nurses died because this administration, this Congress, our elected officials, our government agencies failed to act, to lead and to protect them?”she asked further.