Bring back masks, nurses union urges CDC

The National Nurses Union is urging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reinstate...
The National Nurses Union is urging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reinstate its mask guidance.(National Nurses Union)
Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 12:21 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The nation’s largest union of registered nurses wants the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reinstate its recommendation that people, even those who are vaccinated, wear a mask when they are outside of their homes.

In its statement, released Tuesday, the National Nurses Union (NNU) noted that new COVID-19 cases have risen 16 percent over the past week and more than 40 states overall are seeing new cases rise over the past two weeks. In Wisconsin, the seven-day rolling average of new cases has nearly doubled to 139 cases per day in the past week alone.

Describing the pandemic as “far from over,” the union wants universal masking to return for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, to keep the virus from spreading, noting the additional risk from people who are not showing symptoms.

“Masks are a simple and effective tool, especially when used in combination with other measures to reduce the risk of Covid-19,” NNU Executive Director Bonnie Castillo said

In addition to the mask recommendation, the nurses also urge federal health officials to take the following steps: (test by NNU)

  • update health care infection control and other Covid-19 guidance to fully recognize aerosol transmission,
  • require tracking and transparent reporting of Covid infections among health care workers and other essential workers, and
  • track infections in people who are fully vaccinated, including mild and asymptomatic infections.

“SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19 disease, spreads easily from person to person via aerosol transmission when an infected person breathes, speaks, coughs, or sneezes,” Castillo added.

The union primarily blamed the increase in cases on states reopening and ending their public health measures. It also cited numbers showing just under half of the total U.S. population, including those who are not eligible to be vaccinated, (approx. 48%) have completed their series.

They even pointed the finger at the CDC for its guidance that vaccinated people do not need to wear masks, socially distance, or get tested when exposed. The nurses argued the federal agency did not take into account data from the United Kingdom and Isreal that appear to show vaccinated individuals can still spread the virus, especially the coronavirus variants.

In its letter to the federal agency, the union also accused the CDC of failing to protect young children, infants, and others who cannot receive the vaccine as well as those whose immune systems are compromised.

The World Health Organization reported Wednesday that deaths climbed last week after nine straight weeks of decline. It recorded more than 55,000 lives lost, a 3% increase from the week before.

Cases rose 10% last week to nearly 3 million, with the highest numbers recorded in Brazil, India, Indonesia and Britain, WHO said.

Copyright 2021 WMTV. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this article.