Nurses protest at White House over lack of protective gear

At least a dozen nurses on Tuesday protested outside the White House demanding the administration take action to acquire more personal protective equipment (PPE), reading aloud the names of 50 nurses who have died of coronavirus.

"We are here because our colleagues are dying. I think that right now people think of us as heroes, but we're feeling like martyrs," one nurse told NBC News. 

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National Nurses United (NNU) is asking the administration to use the Defense Production Act (DPA) to order the mass production of PPE, ventilators and coronavirus test kits. President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump marks 'very sad milestone' of 100K coronavirus deaths DOJ: George Floyd death investigation a 'top priority' Lifting our voices — and votes MORE has used the DPA on a limited basis in recent weeks to manufacture ventilators and some other equipment to respond to the coronavirus outbreak but has encouraged hospitals and states to take the lead on obtaining other supplies. 

“NNU is calling on Congress to mandate the DPA’s use to produce the equipment and supplies health care workers need to care for COVID-19 patients as well as to conduct mass testing that is required to control the spread of the virus,” the union said in a statement Tuesday. 

Since the start of the pandemic in the U.S. hospitals have reported a lack of equipment, particularly the PPE that helps protect medical staff from contracting the virus from infected patients. 

On Monday the New York State Nurses Association filed lawsuits against the New York Department of Health and two hospitals over what they describe as unsafe working conditions and a lack of PPE.