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A growing number of letters, editorials, and petitions are urging the incoming Biden administration to include nurses in their Covid-19 task force. When the new team assembles to battle the pandemic in 2021, the Emergency Nurses Association, the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, and representatives from Rutgers and NYU’s Rory Meyers School of Nursing, among others have declared that nurses must have a place at the table.
In a widely published opinion piece for CNN, Caroline Dorsen, PhD, FNP-BC, associate professor and associate dean of advanced practice and clinical partnerships at Rutgers School of Nursing and Lauren Ghazal, a PhD candidate at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing stated that nurses are “public health experts who will add a unique and important perspective to this critical work.” They added, “Nurses are vital to meeting the task force’s goals, including making rapid testing widely available, building a workforce of contact tracers, prioritizing getting vaccines to at-risk populations (including people of color that have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19), developing clear and detailed prevention and treatment guidelines, providing necessary resources for schools and businesses to reopen safely, protecting workers and the public and, of course, caring for the sick and dying with skill, kindness and dignity.”
Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) president Mike Hastings, MSN, RN, CEN, wrote an open letter to Biden, pressing for the inclusion of nurses on the task force: “As the surge in cases and hospitalizations are expected to continue in the months ahead, the nursing perspective will be critical as your team prepares to address the crisis. Once a vaccine is approved, nurses will play a critical role in its administration to the public. Accordingly, we respectfully request that you consider placing nurses with experience and expertise in pandemics, the frontline treatment of patients and infectious diseases on the COVID-19 task force.”
Using the hashtag #NurseOnTaskForce, a Change.org petition calling for the inclusion of nurses on the task force stated that “input from nurses is crucial to insure that the recommendations regarding COVID apply to all health care workers.” The petition had acquired over 5,000 signatures by November 17.
While there is some debate over including nurses as task force members, the Biden team’s actual plan for handling the pandemic (click here to see a summary of the plan) has been met with enthusiastic approval by National Nurses United. NNU president Zenei Cortez said, “Not only does the plan address the current crisis, it would begin to rebuild the infrastructure needed to be able to respond to infectious disease outbreaks, that are likely to happen more often due to the climate crisis, globalization, and rapid urbanization in the future.”