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UC San Diego nurses call for adequate protective equipment

UC San Diego Health says that it is following guidance established by the CDC

SAN DIEGO — As the number of confirmed Coronavirus cases climbs, some local nurses say that they are not receiving the equipment they need to adequately protect themselves and the public as they handle patients with COVID-19.

Thursday night, a group of nurses at UC San Diego Health in Hillcrest, members of the California Nurses Association, spoke out against what they say are inadequate protections when dealing with Coronavirus patients.

"We need to take immediate action to protect people's health," said one nurse.

Earlier, the CDC altered its guidance for using masks when dealing with Coronavirus patients, moving from airborne protections like N95 respirators to droplet/contact protection, such as surgical face masks.

"This is not the time to be weakening our standards and protections," said Dahlia Tayag, a registered nurse at UC San Diego Health. "We oppose the CDC's changes to its guidance and we also oppose UCSD's decision to lower their standards.."

Nurses say that by not using N95 masks in dealing with all COVID-19 patients, the consequences down the road could be devastating as the number of Coronavirus cases continues to climb.

"We need to stay healthy and we need the right staffing and the tools to do our job to protect the public," said registered nurse Deanna Scott.

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UC San Diego Health says that it does not have a shortage of personal protective equipment, but says it is carefully managing its supply. It adds that it is following the CDC's latest guidance on masking, in moving to droplet/contact protections like gloves, gowns, eye protection and face masks instead of N95 respirators when providing routine care for COVID-19 patients. However, its staff is continuing to use N95 respirators in the intensive care units and while doing more complicated procedures like intubation. 

However, some nurses say that these revised protocols fall dangerously short of keeping everyone healthy and safe during this growing pandemic.

"This is simply not adequate and puts nurses and their families and the public at risk," said registered nurse Shannon Cotton.

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