Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

A passenger wears a face mask on a train in San Francisco on Wednesday, February 26, 2020. (Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Image)

A passenger wears a face mask on a train in San Francisco on Wednesday, February 26, 2020. (Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Image)

As Trump Cries 'Hoax,' Nurses in California Warn Quarantines of 124 Health Workers Show US Hospitals Remain Unprepared for Coronavirus

Warning from frontline health providers comes as Trump accuses those criticizing his handling of the crisis as perpetrating a "new hoax" against him.

Jon Queally

While stipulating that a University of California at Davis medical facility is "generally better prepared and equipped" than most when it comes to dealing with such a situation, National Nurses United—the largest nurses union in the United States—warned Friday night that the self-quarantine of 124 healthcare workers there shows the nation's hospitals remain seriously unprepared for the coronavirus that officials warn is rapidly spreading.

"This is not the time for hospital chains to cut corners or prioritize their profits. This is the time to go the extra mile and make sure health care workers, patients, and the public are protected at the highest standards."
—Bonnie Castillo, National Nurses United
According to the NNU, a single case of coronavirus (also known as COVID-19)—in which a patient was admitted on Feb. 19—has now resulted in the quarantine of 36 registered nurses and 88 other health care workers at the UC Davis Medical Center, all them now at home in order to limit the risk of further spread.

"These 124 nurses and health care workers, who are needed now more than ever, have instead been sidelined," the union said in a statement. "Lack of preparedness will create an unsustainable national health care staffing crisis. Nurses view the handling of this COVID-19 case as a system failure and not a success."

The Washington Post reports Saturday, citing latest figures from  the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that "four new cases Friday brings the total number of covid-19 cases detected through the U.S. public health system to 19."

The NNU said its nurses are speaking out now because they are "dedicated to protecting the health and safety of their patients, health care workers, and the public." It also comes as President Donald Trump, at a rally in South Carolina on Friday night, accused Democrats and others criticizing his administration's handling of the crisis—of which there are many—of perpetrating a "new hoax" against him.

While it is waiting for more complete results of a survey sent out to nurses in hospitals across the country, the NNU said preliminary responses from 1,000 members in California found:

  • Only 27 percent report that there is a plan in place to isolate a patient with a possible novel coronavirus infection. 47 percent report they don’t know if there is a plan.
  • Only 73 percent report that they have access to N95 respirators on their units; 47 percent report access to powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs) on their units.
  • Only 27 percent report that their employer has sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) stock on hand to protect staff if there is a rapid surge in patients with possible coronavirus infections; 44 percent don’t know.

In addition to the survey, NNU said it has sent letters to the federal Centers for Disease Control to request strengthening its guidelines on COVID-19, and to the California Department of Public Health, Cal-OSHA, and the World Health Organization outlining its concerns and offering recommendations so that nurses, support staff, and the public at large are better protected.

CNN reports:

The patient was transferred to UC Davis on February 19 from a Northern California hospital. Officials from both hospitals said the patient wasn't initially tested for the virus because she didn't meet the existing CDC criteria.

The patient didn't have any relevant travel history or exposure to another known patient, said Dr. Sara Cody, director of the county's public health department.

Confirmation that the Solano County woman had contracted the virus came Sunday after UC Davis doctors insisted on testing.

The nurses union said that its members within the UC hospital system over recent weeks had gone to officials, including at Davis, demanding that existing protocols for infectious diseases be put in place but that those requests were not met.

"We know that we can be successful in getting all our hospitals prepared to control the spread of this virus," said Bonnie Castillo, and RN and NNU's executive director. "We are committed to working with hospitals and state and federal agencies to be ready. But nurses and health care workers need optimal staffing, equipment, and supplies to do so. This is not the time for hospital chains to cut corners or prioritize their profits. This is the time to go the extra mile and make sure health care workers, patients, and the public are protected at the highest standards."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Congress Must Act': Bernie Sanders Demands End of Filibuster to Codify Abortion Rights

"We must pass legislation that codifies Roe v. Wade as the law of the land in this country. And if there aren't 60 votes to do it, and there are not, we must reform the filibuster to pass it with 50 votes."

Jon Queally ·


Human Rights Defenders Warn Biden Border Policy 'Quickly Transforming Into Trump 2.0'

Like his predecessor, President Joe Biden now being accused of "using racist, xenophobic tropes about immigrants to weaponize Covid-19 against migrants and asylum-seekers."

Jon Queally ·


'Bombshell': Israeli Spyware Used to Hack iPhones of US State Department Officials

Calling the Israel-based spyware maker NSO Group an "in-plain-sight national security threat," one expert warned that "a multi-agency investigation is immediately needed."

Jessica Corbett ·


US Progressive Caucus Hails Honduran Election as Chance for 'New Chapter' in Relations

"We encourage the Biden administration to use this opportunity to make a clean break with previous presidential administrations, which worked to ensure that the 2009 coup d'état succeeded."

Brett Wilkins ·


'The Facts of This Case Are So Egregious': Parents of Michigan School Shooter Charged in Killings

"There were a lot of things that could have been so simple to prevent," the Oakland County prosecutor said of the mother and father now being sought by law enforcement.

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo