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Wed., March 11, 2020

Amy Clark, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW
Ruth Schubert, WSNA
Sarah Cherin, UFCW 21


As nurses and healthcare workers providing essential care to patients in hospitals, clinics, and housing and shelters across Washington state, we applaud Gov. Jay Inslee and the leaders of King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties for taking the necessary step of limiting large gatherings during this stage of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Prohibiting events is a common-sense measure that will help protect our community members from the novel coronavirus.

This measure will also help frontline health care workers and our health care system as a whole effectively respond to this crisis by “flattening the curve” of coronavirus patients seeking care. As health care workers on the front lines of responding to this public health emergency, we support all efforts to reduce the impact on our ability to provide care by lowering the daily number of patients coming into a system that is already stressed by the growing number of COVID-19 patients.

We understand that state and local governments and public health agencies are responding proactively to the existing risks created by this new disease in an effort to minimize those risks and keep our healthcare delivery system accessible to all who may need it.

In our role as caregivers, we are often called on to tell patients the truth about their health. The truth we want our community to hear is this: Social distancing, like that enforced by the measure announced today, is one of the very best ways to prevent the spread of epidemic illness. This temporary change in behavior will help protect all of us from the spread of COVID-19, as well as from cold and flu illnesses common during this time of year.

The most vulnerable COVID-19 patients—those age 60 or older or with underlying health conditions—may need intensive hospital care, and it is essential that we preserve hospital intensive and critical care beds for those most vulnerable patients. Social distancing is a public health measure that will help prevent our health system from being overwhelmed, and will make it easier for anyone with the novel coronavirus to access necessary hospital care.

As nurses and health care workers, we care deeply for our patients and take pride in the roles we play on the front lines of patient care, particularly during a time of heightened concern for community health. Our continued safety during this outbreak is critical to our ability to continue to provide quality patient care. We continue to call on the CDC to proactively and effectively target the supply of respirators and use other controls to reduce the risk of infection in health care workers, knowing that our professionals are at the highest risk of infection. We will continue to work closely with health care employers and with federal and local public health agencies to ensure all caregivers have access to the highest level of personal protective equipment available so we can continue to provide the high-quality health care our communities require.


About SEIU Healthcare 1199NW
SEIU Healthcare 1199NW is a union of nurses and healthcare workers with over 30,000 caregivers throughout hospitals, clinics, mental health, skilled home health and hospice programs in Washington state and Montana. SEIU Healthcare 1199NW’s mission is to advocate for quality care and good jobs for all.

About WSNA
WSNA is the leading voice and advocate for nurses in Washington state, providing representation, education and resources that allow nurses to reach their full professional potential and focus on caring for patients. WSNA represents more than 17,000 registered nurses for collective bargaining who provide care in hospitals, clinics, schools and community and public health settings across the state.

About UFCW 21
UFCW 21 is working to build a powerful union that fights for economic, political and social justice in our workplaces and our communities. We represent over 45,000 workers in retail, grocery stores, health care, and other industries in Washington state.

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