Nurses are on the frontlines of caring for patients, including those with COVID-19, and nurses represented by the Washington State Nurses Association have been caring for COVID-19 patients here in Washington state. Nurses feel a tremendous professional and ethical calling to care for every patient, and they are doing just that. We do need to ensure, though, that nurses and other health care workers are getting the needed protective equipment to do their jobs safely. We need to ensure that safety protocols for taking care of those with flu-like symptoms are in place. And we need to ensure that nurses who are exposed to the illness get timely direction as to whether they should be in isolation or quarantine.
We have been hearing from members who say they are not getting the protective equipment and timely information they need. The questions and concerns of frontline caregivers need to be addressed as promptly as possible. WSNA is working closely with local public health departments, including Public Health – Seattle & King County, and the Washington State Hospital Association to raise and address these concerns.
WSNA is working very closely with local public health agencies and with the state Department of Health on the response to the COVID-19 outbreak. It is very important for the public to know that everyone is working jointly – and very hard – to ensure that the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak is being responded to in the best and most rapid way possible. The risk to the public remains low. We encourage Washingtonians to follow public health guidance on how to prevent disease transmission:
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Frequently wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Cover coughs or sneezes with tissue and then wash hands.
- Sanitize frequently touched surfaces.
- Avoid exposure to those exhibiting flu symptoms.
- Masking in the absence of symptoms is not recommended for healthy individuals. Those with a chronic or underlying health condition should contact their health care provider for additional instructions.