NY nurses upset with CDC for saying surgical masks can protect them in screening for COVID-19

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NEW YORK — The New York State Nurses’ Association held a large press conference Wednesday, demanding better protection in the fight against the COVID-19 virus.

“The CDC announced yesterday that they were lowering the guidelines for protection of health care workers,” said Lisa Baum, a member of the association’s executive board. “And they were equating surgical masks with respirators.”

Baum said when a pathogen spreads this way, “you must have the proper level of protective equipment.”

The nurses are asking for more N95 respirator-type masks.

Kathy Santoiemma is a registered nurse who lives in New Rochelle, where a containment zone has been set up. She works for Montefiore Medical Center in New Rochelle.

“We are using them more than once,”Santoiemma said about respirators. “We’re allowed up to five uses.”

She said it wasn’t a safe practice.

Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez—a registered nurse at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx—said she never had a problem caring for tuberculosis patients over the last 40 years because “I had the right equipment.”

“This is a national/international emergency,” she said. “And it will take us, if we don’t get control of it.”

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