Thu. May 26th, 2022

They lit nearly 500 candles to honor nurses who they said died of COVID.

Health personnel held a vigil against the White House Thursday night, lighting 481 candles, saying each of them represented the life of a nurse who had been lost due to COVID.

Activists recited poems and told personal stories, claimed that nurses’ deaths could be prevented, and demanded covid safety protection in the workplace from both the government and the profit funds of the hospitals they serve.

“When our jobs are not safe, nurses leave, nurses get sick. And as these candles demonstrate, nurses die,” Julia Truelove, a registered nurse in the intensive care unit in Washington, DC, told ABC News. “We are here to say that there is no shortage of nurses, there is a shortage of workers willing to work under these nightmarish conditions.”

“We are advocating for two key steps that the federal government needs to take to help us be safe at work,” Truelove said.

“The first is that OSHA must pass a permanent COVID standard, which means that in future our employers will be held responsible for keeping us safe with optimal measures at work. The second is for the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) to base their guidance on the best science and the best public health, not just what’s best for business, “she said.

“The CDC is now telling us that if we are COVID-positive, we can return to work without problems. It’s unsafe for nurses, it’s unsafe for our patients, it’s unsafe for our colleagues,” she said.

Nurses across the United States, claiming to be overworked, understaffed and negotiating basic security protocols, have organized through National Nurses United, one of the fastest growing unions in the country, to take their case to the political arena with a membership close to 175,000 worldwide.

“I have to work tomorrow, I have to work early tomorrow, I want to be home,” Truelove said, adding that she was exhausted after taking on several 12-hour shifts several times a week. “But I know someone has to be here, and someone has to line up right now for nurses from all over the country who can not be here, so I’m happy to be here to represent the nurses who are struggling in their communities, but yes, it’s an extra burden because the government does not. “

“Nurses will always struggle to be by our patient’s side, but when we are sick, when we are driven away from the profession, or worst of all, when we are lost to this world forever, who will be left to take care of of the patients, “Truelove said.

“Nurses are not useless. We can not afford for another nurse’s life to end because of preventable causes,” she said.

ABC News’ Lalee Ibssa contributed to this report.

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