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‘We’re overwhelmed’: Nurses in US protest COVID-19 working conditions

Amid a steep surge in COVID-19 cases fueled by the Omicron variant, thousands of nurses on Thursday staged nationwide protests against staff shortage in hospitals and nursing homes across the US.

The protests were held under the banner of National Nurses United (NNU), a labor union with more than 175,000 members nationwide, which called on the hospital industry to “invest in safe staffing.”

Hospitals in the US, the worst-hit country in the world, have been struggling to cope up with the new tide of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, as well as worker shortages and burnout.

Nurses are furious over sheer callousness and indifference shown by the government as well as their employers, blaming them for caring about their businesses, not the public health.

The protests took place across 11 US states  and Washington, D.C. “to demand the hospital industry invest in safe staffing, and to demand that President Biden follow through on his campaign promise to protect nurses and prioritize public health,” according to the union.

A candlelight vigil was held in Washington, D.C. for nurses who lost their lives to the pandemic. The participants urged the hospital industry to invest in safe staffing, and urged Joe Biden’s administration to follow through on his campaign promise to protect nurses and prioritize public health.

They accused the Biden administration of taking away critical protections from health care workers and the public in recent weeks, with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) weakening COVID-19 isolation guidelines and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announcing that it intends to withdraw critical COVID-19 protections for health care workers.

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