We just received this email from Lavita Payton, a registered nurse and Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1104 member, and thought you should read it.
Payton tells us why she is petitioning President Trump to use the Defense Production Act to get all front-line workers the personal protective equipment she and others need to do their jobs now.
———- Forwarded message ———
From: Lavita Payton, CWA <email@example.com>
Date: Fri, Apr 3, 2020 at 10:11 AM
Subject: Our lives are on the line.
To: Team AFL-CIO <firstname.lastname@example.org>
FIGHTING FOR ECONOMIC JUSTICE & DEMOCRACY
“We have done a hell of a job.”
– President Trump, March 27th, 2020 (New York Times, p. A8, March 28, 2020)
“Something’s going on. Where are the masks going—are they going out the back door? Somebody should look into that….”
– President Trump, March 29th, 2020 (New York Times, p. A7, March 30, 2020)
Is President Trump kidding?
Is he really accusing me and my co-workers of hoarding and stealing excess personal protective equipment? Does he have any clue about what’s really happening in my hospital, and hospitals like mine across the country?
My name is Lavita Payton, and I work at a major hospital in New York City. I’m writing today to let you know what’s really going on where I work and to ask you to take action now to tell President Trump to use the Defense Production Act (DPA) to get us and all public-facing essential workers the protective equipment that we need NOW.
Never in my 25 years of nursing have my co-workers and I seen anything like what we are seeing with this COVID-19 pandemic.
Ambulances streaming in hour after hour with critically ill patients in respiratory distress. ICU beds totally filled, as we frantically try to create new units for COVID patients around the hospital grounds. Doctors, nurses, respiratory techs, auxiliary personnel, working 14-16 hours a day, totally and completely burnt out, terrified of getting sick and bringing the disease home to our families.
And you know what? We don’t have the protective equipment we need. We are all reusing single-use gear like N95 respirators for a week because there aren’t enough. We don’t have enough surgical masks or surgical gowns to keep ourselves safe. Estimates are that we will need literally billions of N95s for health care workers and others in this crisis.
And it’s not just health care workers who need proper Personal Protective Equipment.
Hospital workers are on the frontlines, exposed every day on the job to sick and dying patients. But across this country, there are other public-facing “essential workers”—people in grocery and drug stores, my brothers and sisters working for phone companies like Verizon, AT&T, Altice and Frontier, NYC Traffic Agents and Supervisors, my brothers and sisters working for city and state government, transit workers, utility workers, direct care workers—who also need PPE. They are required to go to work every day, they must interact with the public, they are getting sick and dying too.
Trump says this is like a war and that he is a wartime president. Then lead like it’s a war. Stop the delays. Stop quarreling with Governors. Invoke the DPA now and get American industry moving forward on producing the protective equipment that health care and other essential workers need NOW!
If you care about health care workers, if you care about all “essential” workers, please sign our petition right now to pressure President Trump to invoke the full force of the National Defense Production Act. Take action right now to tell him to get the federal government behind producing the massive amount of PPE we need.
Please sign now. It’s literally a matter of life and death.
RN and CWA Local 1104 member