The Massachusetts Nurses Association is joining national calls for the creation of an independent Presidential Federal COVID-19 Committee to replace the task force disbanded at the end of the Trump administration.
The local nurses union signed on to letters to the Biden White House and Senate leaders as the omicron variant has overwhelmed hospitals across the country.
“Hospitalizations are reaching an all-time high and our healthcare system is on the verge of collapsing, with some patients needing urgent care not able to promptly obtain it,” the Massachusetts Nurses Association, Health Watch USA, and National Nurses United wrote to White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“In addition, state reporting of SARS-CoV-2 infections has become erratic,” the groups wrote to the White House and Senate. “Our country’s response to the COVID crisis has been reactive, lacking in transparency, and derailed by infighting and political divides.”
In Massachusetts, the omicron variant led to a massive surge in cases and hospitalizations. Both infection tallies and COVID patient counts are now falling in the Bay State, but COVID deaths remain high following the omicron spike in hospitalizations.
In the joint letter to the White House and Senate, the groups highlighted a few key reasons why there needs to be an independent Presidential Federal COVID-19 Committee.
“Public trust of government agencies is in decline,” they wrote. “Therefore, policy based solely on advising from federal employees is likely to be met with more resistance than policy formed by an independent committee.
“There has been a lack of transparency concerning data collection and policy making,” the groups added. “It appears that data from the Health Ministry of Israel and Public Health England has been used to guide policy. While data from elsewhere in the world can be useful for forming policy, citizens need to understand how U.S. data forms U.S. policy.”
In January, the local nurses sent Gov. Charlie Baker a letter seeking immediate action to safeguard front-line caregivers, patients and communities during the omicron surge.
“Two years into this pandemic, we are now at a place we all feared,” MNA President Katie Murphy wrote to the governor. “Healthcare workers are overwhelmed and burned out. Healthcare facilities are overrun with both COVID-19 patients and those individuals who delayed care throughout the pandemic, and the system is buckling under the pressure. We are closer than we have ever been to the collapse of the healthcare system.”