Nurses launch campaign against CDC’s OK of bandannas and scarves

WASHINGTON—National Nurses United launched a scathing social media campaign, centered around a serious—but comic—graphic denouncing the federal government’s recommendation that nurses wear bandannas and scarves around their faces if they can’t find masks and respirators to wear while testing and treating coronavirus victims.

CDC issued the recommendation, which is not mandatory, because the U.S. faces an extreme shortage of the N95 face masks and respirators, gowns, gloves, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) nurses need to help stop the spread of the pandemic—which has now seen more than 55,000 people test positive nationwide.

The scarves and bandannas won’t do, NNU said. It also blamed the GOP Trump government for failing to take preventive action to build up needed PPE.

Trump, by contrast, told a “town hall” of his acolytes tuned into his propaganda organ, Fox “News” Channel, he wants to reopen everything by Easter. Meanwhile, in a real indication on March 24 of the pandemic’s seriousness, a Trump pal, nationalist Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, locked down his entire country, which is the world’s second-most-populous, with 1.1 billion people.

“This is dire,” the union e-mailed in launching its drive. The CDC recommended bandannas and scarves “despite proof they provide almost no effective protection against the virus. These recommendations are putting our nurses, frontline health care workers, and patients at extreme risk (their emphasis).

The union asked people to post selfies while adorned with “a bandanna or something like it”—including dishtowels—“to expose the lack of personal protective equipment and call on the CDC to protect frontline nurses immediately.”

NNU also wants its responders to adorn themselves with a sign that says “this is not protection,” to sign a petition at, and then post the selfie and send it to both the CDC and lawmakers.

Its suggested message, though people could write their own: “@CDCgov @NNUBonnie @StefRoberson this is NOT personal protective equipment. Bandanas and scarves provide almost NO effective protection when #COVID19 patients are highly contagious. #ProtectNurses and save lives: strengthen PPE guidelines for frontline health care workers NOW!”

The media campaign coincidentally coincided with an announcement by Building Trades President Sean McGarvey his 13-union federation would ask its members and contractors who employ them to donate N95 masks and respirators to NNU and other nurses groups.

NNU thanked and praised the construction unions—whose members wear masks to keep from breathing in dangerous particles while on building sites—while pointing out the unions are stepping in where the GOP administration has fallen down on the job.


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.