Three out of every four nurses in a recent survey by National Nurses United (NNU) say they feel unsafe amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the union, nurses are at increased risk of exposure because they’re being required to reuse personal protective equipment, they aren’t being regularly tested for the virus and some facilities lack dedicated units for COVID-19 patients, among other reasons.
As a result of these “unsafe practices,” 43% of the nurses said they’re afraid of infecting their loved ones.
Registered nurses delivered a petition to Congress on Aug 7, signed by more than half a million people demanding Congress pass legislation that would protect nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
NNU and petition signatories called on Congress to mandate that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issue an Emergency Temporary Standard to ensure that employers protect frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
They also called on Congress to pass legislation that would ensure that the Defense Production Act is invoked to increase the production of PPE, and ensure efficient and transparent delivery of critical medical supplies.
Among hospital nurses, 87% reported having to reuse at least one type of single-use PPE, such as an N95 respirator or face shield. Only 23% of the nurses said they’ve been tested for COVID-19, while 85% said they work in facilities that have restarted elective surgical procedures.
Data from the CDC shows that, as of July 8, 512 health care workers died as a result of COVID-19. However, the agency noted that health care personnel status was available for only 21.4% of the nearly 2.5 million people for whom it had data.
Zenei Cortez, RN, President of the NNU, said, “We are facing a record-breaking number of infections every day across the country. Nurses are willing to be at the bedside caring for COVID-19 patients; their employers should be willing to protect them. Sadly, that’s not the case.”
According to the CDC, as of Aug. 10, eight states had recorded at least 10,000 cases in the past seven days.