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Nurses push back against CDC’s weakened coronavirus containment protocols

The California Nurses Association and its parent group National Nurses United are holding a national day of action Wednesday, including Bay Area rallies to protest the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s suggested containment measures for the coronavirus.

The California Nurses Association accused the CDC of weakening containment protocols like rolling back protective equipment standards from N95 masks to regular surgical masks, not requiring virus patients to be quarantined and loosening protections for nurses taking respiratory samples from patients.

The CDC issued new guidelines Tuesday that said:

“(F)acemasks are an acceptable alternative when the supply chain of respirators cannot meet the demand.”

The CNA and NNU plan to hold rallies at Oakland’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center Summit Campus, Martinez’s Contra Costa County Medical Center, the Kaiser Permanente Vallejo hospital and call center and Hayward’s St. Rose Hospital, as well as a news conference at the main UC San Francisco Parnassus campus. Nurses also rallied at Kaiser Santa Clara Medical Center at 7:30 a.m.

N95 masks are in short supply as the 2019 novel coronavirus spreads and taxes healthcare providers.

CNA and NNU executive director Bonnie Castillo said:

“If nurses and health care workers aren’t protected, that means patients and the public are not protected.”

“This is a major public health crisis of unknown proportions.”

Nurses in California are protected by the state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s standards for airborne transmissible diseases, according to the CNA.

Nurses in other states, however, do not receive the same support. Union officials said it’s important for states with high disease protection standards to maintain them as the coronavirus outbreak worsens.

Castillo said:

“Now is not the time to be weakening our standards and protections, or cutting corners.”

“Now is the time we should be stepping up our efforts.”

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