Nurses head to the White House to protest lack of protective equipment

Protesters gathered at Lafayette Square in front of the White House and placed 88 pairs of empty shoes on the ground. These shoes represented the life of every nurse they say has been lost due to inadequate personal protective equipment while fighting the coronavirus.

The protesters then read the names of the 88 fallen nurses.

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Members of National Nurses United stand among 88 pairs of empty shoes representing nurses who they say have died from Covid-19 while demonstrating in Lafayette Park on May 7, 2020, across from the White House in Washington, DC.

"You talk about how essential, how necessary, how grateful you are, and yet you throw us to the wolves. You throw us into a battlefield without armor, and the more we complain, we don't see anything being done," Jean said Ross, president of National Nurses United, in an interview with CNN.

The union's website said the protest was intended to demand "that the administration do more to protect frontline health professionals around the country." The union represents 155,000 nurses around the country and has been vocal throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

In early April, the union's Twitter account asked President Donald Trump to call on the Defense Production Act to create more protective equipment, arguing that "bandits are not protection."

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"We're not getting what we need. We haven't seen the worst of it yet. We're so scared," Ross told CNN.

The protest comes just a day after Trump contradicted a nurse he honored at the Oval Office who had told him that the availability of personal protective equipment can be "occasional." Trump insisted that there is no personal protective equipment shortage in the United States.

"Occasional for you, but not sporadic for many other people," the president told the nurse.

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