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Santa Clara County nurses are calling on the county to provide more paid leave for frontline healthcare workers who could be affected by the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Debbie Chang, a county nurse and president of the local Registered Nurses Professional Association, said in a statement Friday:

“While almost everyone else is sheltering at home, nurses and other frontline healthcare responders are running to the fire, knowing their own lives are at risk.”

Chang asked:

“Is it too much to ask that when we get sick or are forced to quarantine from Covid-19, that County leaders have our backs – not just for 14 days, but for as long as it takes?”

The nurses association is asking the county to extend paid administrative leave up to 80 additional hours, on top of their two-weeks leave they currently have, to mirror similar policies implemented in San Francisco, according to a Friday news release which said the county is “failing” frontline healthcare workers.

Chang said:

“A once-in-a-generation crisis is no time to prioritize bottom lines over lifelines.”

The Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a referral asking for additional support for frontline healthcare workers during its Tuesday meeting. The item will return to the board at a later date unspecified in the board’s referral.

The county’s Employee Services Agency could not immediately be reached for comment.

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