New York, NY – Health care workers and union officials are praising the Biden-Harris plan for combatting the COVID-19 epidemic. Major components of the plan include:
- Full use of the Defense Production Act to ramp up production of masks, face shields, and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) not just to meet demand but to replenish stockpiles and create a supply chain in the U.S.
- Prioritizing and relying upon science, when creating guidance, when reviewing and approving vaccines and therapeutics, with transparent access to local case data.
- A task force on racial and ethnic disparities, that is essential to confront the disproportionate number of deaths that have ravaged Black, Latino, Filipino, and Indigenous communities in particular, including among nurses, other health care workers and essential employees.
- Restoring the U.S. relationship to the World Health Organization, which is an important step towards rebuilding ensuring a coordinated international response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and as a framework for ensuring a unified approach to future outbreaks.
- Urging states to make wearing masks mandatory
“This is the plan the American people have been waiting for,” said National Nurses United President Zenei Cortez, RN, urging the Trump administration to work with the incoming Biden-Harris administration to implement it immediately. “If this program had been in place since March, we could have saved tens of thousands of lives and alleviated massive suffering in our nation.”
George Gresham, president of 1199/SEIU, said, “President-Elect Joe Biden has laid out a detailed and comprehensive plan to help America continue to combat COVID-19, and to rebuild from the devastating effects it has taken on our families and our communities.
“As numbers begin to rise in cities around the world, but more specifically as numbers rise in the United States, it will take swift, decisive, and skilled action to protect the public, and the essential healthcare heroes who work so hard to keep them safe.
“Through President-Elect Biden’s plan testing, training, and PPE will be more readily available, and when a vaccine is finalized and proven safe and effective, residents will have access without having to break the bank.
“Our priority must remain protecting the health and well-being of our members, their families, and the patients they work so hard to protect, and I believe the Biden plan will do just that.”
Caitlin Rollman, a Registered Nurse and 1199/SEIU member with over 15 years on the job, who herself was experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, and had just been tested, told LaborPress that having more PPE available through the Defense Production Act would be key. “As of now, we have a 90-day supply, but management is not forthcoming…time will tell, as COVID-19 is surging.” She also believes that nationwide mandates on mask-wearing would help. She says she lives “right in between three states.” If people cross state lines without having the same safety precautions, as they do, the virus can spread more easily, she believes.
Mary Maggio-Fischer, also of 1199/SEIU and an Emergency Room Technician in Queens with 39 years on the job, said she has read the summary of the plan, and that, “one of the things is all this has to be done globally. You can’t stop people from traveling. Every state has to be on the same page.” She likes the idea of masks being mandatory across the states. “And there has to be a lot more education. People are washing surgical masks, when they are not reusable.” Also, when people congregate together, “You don’t know who’s in the group. It’s a multi-faceted domino issue.”