Don’t Forget Nurses!
Last week, Joe Biden announced members of the newly formed COVID-19 task force, a group made up entirely of doctors and health experts, signaling his commitment to using science to bring the raging pandemic under control. The task force is actively working on 200-day plans to bring the virus under control, including the expansion of testing and contact tracing, vaccine distribution and acceptance, and personal protective equipment procurement. Nurses will play a crucial role in advancing these plans, but their seat at this table sits empty right now. It is tough to stand by and watch, never mind understand how nurses, with more than 3.8 million nationwide, three times as many RNs in the United States as physicians, and rendering the majority of daily care COVID-19 patients every day, continue to be overlooked and undervalued.
We strongly urge the Transition Team to appoint a nurse to the COVID-19 task force and place nurses on newly formed teams to strengthen national public health emergency preparedness and response for future pandemics. The nurse should be directing COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. We must focus on containing the virus, implementing evidence-based public health interventions that we know work, increasing our national supply of PPE, and encouraging people to protect each other as a healthy society does collectively. Nurse educators, nurse executives, and nurse scientists can provide leadership and guidance during a highly divisive time where the fundamental tenets of science and public health are being challenged. When the president-elect takes office, he should appoint expert nurses to multiple government positions where our knowledge and skills can guide sustainable public health programs.