One thousand signs reading "Get Us PPE" were displayed on the West Lawn on the U.S. Capitol building Friday as healthcare workers across the country continue to fight the coronavirus pandemic without sufficient personal protective equipment, including masks, gowns, and gloves.
MoveOn.org led the effort to set up the signs, each of which the group said represented 18,000 healthcare workers. The signs add up to 18 million doctors, nurses, home health aides, and other essential frontline workers who the group says need personal protective equipment (PPE) immediately.
"We're demanding that the Trump administration and the government provide them with the resources they need to protect us from the spread of COVID-19," a campaigner for the group said in a video posted to social media.
This morning MoveOn & allies installed 1,000 signs at the Capitol—each representing 18,000 US healthcare workers.
We call on the Trump administration to get health care workers & all essential workers the protective equipment they need to stay safe as they fight coronavirus. https://t.co/7lQXwFcN8n pic.twitter.com/5rZ3bKugUN
— MoveOn (@MoveOn) April 17, 2020
As of Friday, more than 9,000 healthcare workers have contracted the coronavirus while treating patients in emergency rooms and hospitals. According to the CDC, 27 healthcare workers have died of the coronavirus in the U.S., but The Guardian reported this week that government officials are likely undercounting people in healthcare settings—including janitors, aides, and paramedics as well as doctors and nurses—who have died of the disease.
Healthcare workers across the country have reported shortages of equipment. Earlier this month, nurses at hospitals owned by HCA Healthcare, the wealthiest for-profit hospital operator in the U.S., held protests to demand their employer provide them with PPE.
As MoveOn planted the signs at the Capitol on Friday, healthcare workers used the hashtag #GetUsPPE to share the experiences with shortages on social media.
Well it’s happened. We’re officially out of ear loop surgical masks (below), now digging into our supplies of “cone” masks - very harsh on the face. I’m starting a rotation of my used masks, stored hanging in the garage. #GetUsPPE #PPE @getusppe @tmprowell @MasksForDocs pic.twitter.com/miUJMKazBm
— Beverly A. Zavaleta MD (@BZavaletaMD) April 17, 2020
Asking healthcare workers to reuse suboptimal personal protective equipment is like telling a police officer we are out of bullets so just use a bow & arrow
Also don’t forget to wash it off because you will be reusing those bow & arrows since there is a shortage#GetUsPPE
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In Santa Monica, California, 10 nurses at Providence St. John's Health Center were reportedly suspended last week for refusing to treat COVID-19 patients unless the hospital provided them with N95 masks. The nurses demanded the equipment after one of their colleagues contracted the coronavirus.
The Trump administration and Congress, said MoveOn, must take swift action to ensure healthcare workers no longer have to choose between treating patients and potentially exposing themselves and their communities to the illness.
"There's absolutely no reason why our frontline healthcare workers, in the middle of a pandemic, shouldn't have access to masks, gloves, and other personal protective equipment," tweeted MoveOn.
The United States is the richest country in the history of humanity.
There’s absolutely no reason why our frontline healthcare workers, in the middle of a pandemic, shouldn’t have access to masks, gloves, and other personal protective equipment (PPE). #PPENow #GetUsPPE pic.twitter.com/lufcXQA0nH
— MoveOn (@MoveOn) April 17, 2020
Joining medical groups including the American Osteopathic Association, which issued a demand to Congress for sufficient PPE last month, MoveOn is calling on lawmakers to take action as President Donald Trump has impeded efforts to distribute medical equipment in recent weeks. Congress could potentially require the president to fully use his power to invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA), ordering manufacturers to drastically step up productionof masks, ventilators, and other supplies.
Instead, Trump has thus far limited his use of the DPA, ordering two companies to produce only about 55 million protective masks and moving to make sure equipment is not shipped overseas.
"Healthcare workers across the country are working hard to save lives, but the Trump administration hasn't stepped up to guarantee the equipment they need to keep themselves safe," tweeted MoveOn.