Mary Turner, an intensive-care nurse who is president of the Minnesota Nurses Association, began crying as she described holding the hand of a dying patient or caring for a colleague who had fallen ill. She said earlier in the pandemic, nurses were using single-use masks for 10 shifts. While caring for COVID-19 patients since February, Turner said she still hasn’t been tested.
As President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office in two months, he heard Wednesday from a firefighter, nurses and a caregiver who described chronic shortages of protective equipment, tests and contact tracing to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
Her age is unclear.
Mary Turner Meeting with Biden
The virtual meeting was one in a series that the former vice president held in the past week, to demonstrate his preparation for the presidency, even as President Donald Trump continues to fight election results in court and asked for a partial recount in Wisconsin.
On Friday, Biden met with members of his COVID-19 Advisory Board, including Dr Vivek Murthy, a former surgeon general; Dr David Kessler, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration; and Dr Marcella Nunez-Smith of the Yale School of Medicine.
On Monday, Biden met virtually with corporate and labour leaders to discuss how to safely rebuild the economy. On Tuesday, Biden met with military, intelligence and foreign-affairs experts outside government to hear about the biggest national security challenges facing the country, despite the Trump administration refusing to provide security briefings as part of the transition.
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Biden also named nine White House aides Tuesday.
To combat the pandemic, Biden has urged a national requirement for everyone to wear masks for at least two months and to practice social distancing. But governors –rather than the president – are responsible for those kinds of orders.
Turner, the ICU nurse, urged greater distribution of protective equipment, testing and tracing the contacts of people who are infected. She said nurses have walked picket lines to plead for more equipment.
“There is something seriously wrong when nurses have to take to the street to beg for protection in the middle of a pandemic.
“We’re not being given the protection that we need.”
Patricia Forrai-Gunter, a school nurse in Cleveland who sits on the executive board of the American Federation of Teachers, said when schools closed in her city on March 20, workers drove their emergency equipment to hospitals. But as officials decide when and how to reopen, she said schools don’t have any equipment and in some cases have poor ventilation.
“We’re ready to help if we could just have some more boots on the ground,” she said.