Healthcare Workers Feel the Lash of Letting COVID - Health Professionals & Allied Employees

Healthcare Workers Feel the Lash of Letting COVID

Taken from

By Bob Hennelly

January 9, 2022

Donald Trump may have lost the election, but his laissez-faire worldview that believes commerce takes precedence over protecting workers’ health in the midst of a global pandemic has carried the day.

From the White House to City Hall, elected officials of both political parties are terrified of the American people’s anger if they impose a mask mandate again, even as Omicron infections surge and deaths creep up from their low points just months ago.

Consider the major drop in flu cases from the fall of 2020 through the end of January in 2021 when we were wearing masks. According to the CDC, it logged 1,316 flu cases during that period, compared to 130,000 cases over the year before.

Even as our hospitals are overwhelmed, the messaging is that the latest variant from South Africa is far less lethal than its predecessor and is likely to dissipate as fast as it spiked.

Why shut down a perfectly good economy to stop the spread of a virus, especially if the people most likely to die are the unvaccinated? They made their choice. After all, this world view mistakenly believes what we have now is a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

But what this ‘live with it’ worldview gives short shrift to is the toll this pandemic is taking on the healthcare workforce as well as other essential workers who have to work out in the Omicron blizzard and risk getting sick no matter what their vaccination status.

They continue to lose sleep over whether or not they might bring home this virus into a household with an infant not yet eligible for the vaccine virus, or a family member with a pre-existing condition. But in America, that’s their problem.

Debbie White, RN, president of New Jersey’s Health Professionals and Allied Employees, the state’s largest union of registered nurses and health care professionals, said as much as a quarter to a third of the state’s healthcare workforce may have been sidelined already by the latest wave of COVID.

White said she was “appalled” that Gov. Murphy had not yet re-imposed a max mandate, especially since it is now well established that even the fully vaccinated can transmit the deadly virus.

“You see the general public walking around without masks like nothing is happening-business as usual-they’ve got no idea of what’s going on in the healthcare system and they won’t unless they have to enter it,” White said.

White believes the mask mandate “should have happened a month ago.”

“I don’t know what happened, but I can tell you the messaging I am hearing in the media is basically this is a mild variant, make sure you get your vaccine and your booster and that’s it,” she said. “And at an end of a commercial ‘oh, and by the way, you should probably wear a mask to be safe. I just don’t hear a sense of urgency.”

She continued.  “In an effort to stay normal, whatever that is, and possibly to get this over and done with, we have allowed the healthcare system to be completely overwhelmed” without Gov. Murphy taking any “decisive actions.”

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