As the novel coronavirus pandemic continues in the United States, President Donald Trump talks to journalists after signing a proclamation honoring National Nurses Day in the Oval Office at the White House May 06, 2020 in Washington, DC. With more than a million people in the United States infected with COVID-19 and tens of thousands dead from the virus, nurses have been on the front lines of care for patients across the country.
Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images
As the novel coronavirus pandemic continues in the United States, President Donald Trump talks to journalists after signing a proclamation honoring National Nurses Day in the Oval Office at the White House May 06, 2020 in Washington, DC. With more than a million people in the United States infected with COVID-19 and tens of thousands dead from the virus, nurses have been on the front lines of care for patients across the country.
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Nurses rallied in front of the White House on Thursday morning to protest the lack of personal protective equipment available to them in the battle against the novel coronavirus.

The demonstrators gathered in Lafayette Square in front of the White House and placed 88 pairs of empty shoes on the ground. Those shoes represented the life of each nurse they say has been lost due inadequate personal protective equipment while fighting the coronavirus.

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

Members of the National Nurses United stand among 88 pairs of empty shoes representing nurses that they say have died from Covid-19 while demonstrating in Lafayette Park on May 7, 2020, across from the White House in Washington, DC.
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Members of the National Nurses United stand among 88 pairs of empty shoes representing nurses that 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 needed, how grateful you are, and yet you throw us to the wolves. You throw us out onto a battlefield without armor and the more we complain we don’t see anything being done,” said Jean Ross, president of National Nurses United, in an interview with CNN.

The union’s website said the protest was meant to demand “that the administration do more to protect frontline health care workers 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 called for President Donald Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act to create more protective equipment, arguing “bandanas are not protection.”

“We are not getting what we need. We have not seen the worst of it yet. We are so afraid,” Ross told CNN.

The protest comes just a day after Trump contradicted a nurse he honored in the Oval Office who had told him that availability of personal protective equipment can be “sporadic.” Trump insisted there are no personal protective equipment shortages in the US.

“Sporadic for you but not sporadic for a lot of other people,” the President told the nurse.