They put their lives on the line every day during the battle against COVID-19. Hundreds of nurses have died from the virus and tonight they are being remembered around the country.
Janine Paiste-Ponder worked as a nurse at Sutter Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland. She died from COVID-19 last July.
Paiste-Ponder is one of 400 nurses who were remembered Wednesday night at the Oakland Coliseum as part of a nationwide tribute to nurses who died during the pandemic.
“It’s heartbreaking that all of these deaths could have been prevented. We are one and a half years into this pandemic and we still have nurses dying,” said Zenei Cortez with the California Nurses Association.
As nurses were sitting socially distanced in their cars, listening to the names of their colleagues who passed away from the virus.
Similar demonstrations were taking place all over the country. In Washington D.C., hundreds of shoes were placed near the white house.
The nurses’ union are demanding that the Biden administration implement safety measures for hospital workers on the front lines.
“We need tools and we continue to fight for them and nurses continue to die,” said Jean Ross, the president of the National Nurses Union.
In the Bay Area, four nurses lost their lives to the virus but those who came out to Wednesday’s event believe there are more.
“They didn’t have to die. If we had equipment and the government was forth coming, this didn’t have to happen like this,” said Tammie Sims-Russell, a Bay Area nurse.
As these nurses care for COVID-19 patients day in and day out, they have to fight the virus at home.
“My 96-year-old grandmother, she’s still alive beat covid and got it from her caregiver but my uncle who was 70 years old passed away," said Leticita Giacomazzi, a Bay Area nurse.
Bay Area nurses are hoping government officials will step in to provide better protection, to help make it safer for them in the future.