The names came from all over the country — New York and Alabama, Puerto Rico and Nevada, California and Michigan, Florida and Maryland, New Jersey and the District.
A man in blue scrubs stood behind Jones as she read, holding a metallic gold sign painted with the message: “20 seconds won’t scrub ‘hero’ blood off your hands.”
“Let us remember and honor the ultimate sacrifice these nurses paid,” Jones said before reading about 45 names, which she said is a partial list of those who have died. “We commit ourselves to fight like hell for the living.”
The protest stood in stark contrast to demonstrations in recent days in some parts of the country in which protesters have demanded the reopening of nonessential businesses. Nurses have been spotted at those gatherings, too, standing arms crossed, in opposition to demonstrators, many of whom are unmasked and milling in crowds.
More than 9,000 health-care workers in the United States have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those numbers are believed to be an undercount of infections due to a lack of tests in many areas.
The nurses said Tuesday that they wanted to bring their demands for more personal protective equipment directly to President Trump’s doorstep.
Health-care providers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and rehabilitation centers have for weeks asked lawmakers and government agencies for more protective equipment to shield themselves and their vulnerable patients from the spread of covid-19.
National Nurses United last month petitioned the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to institute an emergency safety standard that would provide nurses with more protective gear, including N95 respirator masks, face shields, gowns, gloves and shoe coverings.
Health-care workers, governors and other officials have for weeks demanded that Trump enforce the Defense Production Act to order mass production of those materials. Many have also petitioned Congress to mandate Trump use his authority to help boost the production of such gear.
Last week, a protest in the shadow of the Capitol displayed the faces of health-care workers demanding better protection on 1,000 signs. The sign represented protesters that organizers said would not have been safe if gathered together on the Capitol lawn.