‘Soldiers don’t go to war without guns, why should nurses come to work without protective equipment?’ asked Leyrose McIntyre, one of around 30 nurses demonstrating outside a New York hospital on Thursday.
The protest, rare in the age of social distancing, was over a lack of masks, gowns, and other protective equipment for health workers treating coronavirus patients in the epicenter of America’s deadly pandemic.
New York has recorded almost 100,000 confirmed cases — including some 2,300 deaths — and the nurses say a shortage of equipment is putting their lives at risk.
Led by their union, the New York State Nurses Association, the nurses spread out along the fence outside Montefiore Medical Centre, in the Bronx, careful to keep some distance between them.
They were masked, wore black ribbons in solidarity with all COVID-19 patients, and held up placards denouncing a shortage of ‘PPE,’ personal protective equipment, the rationing of which is affecting staff across New York’s hospitals.
‘We are the warriors on the frontlines... we don’t have the arms and the armor to protect ourselves against the enemy,’ association president Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez said.
Her colleagues each had a story to tell.
New York mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday urged all of the city’s residents to cover their faces when outside and near others to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
‘Let’s be clear. This is a face covering. It could be a scarf. It could be something you create yourself at home. It could be a bandana,’ de Blasio told reporters.
‘It doesn’t need to be a professional surgical mask. In fact, we don’t want you to use the kind of masks that our first responders need, that our health care workers need. Don’t use those,’ he added.
New York is the epicenter of America’s deadly COVID-19 outbreak.
As of Thursday evening, the United States had a total of more than 243,000 declared cases and over 5,900 fatalities, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University.
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