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Twelve hour shifts treating the sickest coronavirus patients with nothing to protect you but a used mask. These are the conditions nurses and other frontline healthcare workers across the country face right now. In fact, some nurses are so desperate for any protective equipment they've been forced to turn to diapers, swim goggles, and trash bags to cobble together their own supplies--all thanks to corporate lobbyists. That's right. Some of the richest corporations in the world are actively blocking vital supplies for hospitals like ventilators, gloves, and masks because they claim its bad for business. Donald Trump has the power under the Defense Production Act to order an increase in production of critical supplies like masks, gloves, ventilators, face shields, and more. But he has refused thanks to lobbying from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, whose members include massive corporations like Walmart, Bayer, Wells Fargo, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Uber. Two of two biggest makers of the N95 masks nurses need--3M and Honeywell--both sit on the board of the Chamber of Commerce, likely playing a key role choosing to lobby against the Defense Production Act. Trump has used the Defense Production Action hundreds of thousands of times throughout his presidency-- to build drones, and missiles and even armor for immigration agents. Yet when nearly 100,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 he would rather do his corporate friends a favor than use it to prioritize life-saving equipment. Nearly 10,000 healthcare workers have already contracted COVID-19, and experts say the numbers of healthcare deaths from COVID-19 are far higher than we can adequately track. And it's worse for women and people of color--the people most impacted by the coronavirus crisis. Women and people of color are more likely to be essential workers and already experience discrimination when it comes to getting access to healthcare. A Black nurse in Detroit died after contracting COVID-19 at work and getting turned away from treatment at the same hospital where she worked four times. Trump has claimed since March that these massive corporations would simply step up to fill the needs but, with health workers literally begging for protective equipment, it's clear that hasn't happened.
Many members of the Chamber of Commerce rely on their reputations to attract customers and earn a profit--and that's even more important during an economic downturn. That means that we, as consumers and workers, have the power to push these companies to stop fighting against the Defense Production Act. Corporations like Facebook, Target, and Uber are standing in the way of getting protective equipment to nurses and other frontline health workers. Send a message to corporate leaders demanding they support nurses.