Nurses’ union holding rallies Wednesday, including Georgia, to protest CDC coronavirus efforts

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Five left-leaning Georgia groups urged Gov. Brian Kemp and Republican legislative leaders on Wednesday to “do the right thing” and postpone a key legislative deadline.

The National Nurses United union called for rallies across the nation Wednesday, including Georgia, to protest what they call weakening federal measures to contain the coronavirus.

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“Registered nurses are outraged to learn the Centers for Disease Control on Tuesday further weakened its guidance on measures to contain COVID-19,” the union said. “These changes include, among other things, rolling back personal protective equipment standards from N-95 respirators to allow simple surgical masks; not requiring suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients to be placed in negative pressure isolation rooms at all times; and weakening protections for health care workers collecting diagnostic respiratory specimens.

“These are moves National Nurses United nurses say will gravely endanger nurses, health care workers, patients, and our communities.”

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The union is calling for a national day of action. The rallies are predominantly focused on California, but the union said it planned a demonstration in Augusta at noon Wednesday and a candlelight vigil at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital in Chicago at 8 p.m.

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“If nurses and health care workers aren’t protected, that means patients and the public are not protected,” said Bonnie Castillo, the union’s executive director. “This is a major public health crisis of unknown proportions. 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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On Wednesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, told a U.S. House committee the coronavirus pandemic will get worse.

National Nurses United is the nation’s largest union of registered nurses, with more than 150,000 members nationwide.