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Thousands Of Nurses Across Southland Hold May Day Rallies Over PPE Shortages

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Nurses from hospitals across the Southland and the nation are holding dozens of May Day rallies Friday, demanding safer working conditions and more personal protective equipment amid a coronavirus pandemic which has lead to major supply shortages.

Santa Monica nurses rally
Nurses employed at Providence Saint John's Hospital and their supporters participate in a car caravan in Santa Monica, California on April 21, 2020 - The demonstrators were demanding the return of 10 registered nurses who were suspended for requesting personal protective equipment (PPE) while treating COVID-19 patients, according to the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

Rallies are scheduled at Keck Hospital of USC, Methodist Hospital in Arcadia, UCLA Medical Center in Westwood, Providence St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica and PIH Health Good Samaritan Hospital in Westlake and Kaiser Permanente L.A. Medical Center.

The demonstrations will include caravans of cars honking their horns. There have been several such rallies in the region over the past few weeks.

Nurses argue that decontaminating and reusing N95 masks is unsafe, a procedure that many hospitals have begun using after it received FDA approval last month. They instead want employers and the government to provide them with single use N95s, powered air-purifying respirators and additional staff.

They are asking President Donald Trump to activate the Defense Production Act to help with mass production of PPE.

Hospitals say they are dealing with mass supply shortages as best they can.

"It's important to know we are providing our staff with the personal protective equipment that is aligned with the latest science and guidance from public health authorities," Kaiser Permanente said in a statement Friday to CBS2. "These are the same supplies and equipment that are also being used by hospital systems in California and across the nation."

As of Monday, 1,968 healthcare workers and first responders in L.A. County had been diagnosed with coronavirus, and 11 of those had died, the majority of which worked in nursing homes.

Nurses account for 43 percent of all cases among healthcare workers in the county. About 75 percent of healthcare workers with coronavirus for whom the source of exposure is known were exposed in a healthcare facility.

Last month, 10 nurses at Providence St. John's were suspended and placed on paid leave for refusing to treat coronavirus patients without the proper PPE.

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