Largest US nurses’ union rips CDC’s new mask guidelines

The country’s largest nurses’ union is blasting the CDC over its latest recommended easing of mask restrictions — claiming the move “threatens the lives of patients, nurses and other frontline workers.”

“Now is not the time to relax protective measures, and we are outraged that the CDC has done just that while we are still in the midst of the deadliest pandemic in a century,” said registered nurse Bonnie Castillo, president of National Nurses United, which says it represents more than 170,000 members.

The stinging remarks came just days after the federal Centers for Disease Control announced it was recommending that anyone who is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can safely stop wearing masks and socially distancing in most instances.

“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities – large or small — without wearing a mask or physically distancing,” CDC chief Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a press briefing Thursday.

A medical worker in PPE.
National Nurses United represents more than 170,000 members.
Getty Images

“You certainly could wear a mask if you wanted to, but we are saying in those settings based on the science that it is safe,” she said.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Big Apple Mayor Bill de Blasio immediately balked at the notion, refusing to accept the updated guidance, at least for now — adding to the confusion for people already struggling to figure out what they should be doing to stay safe.

President Joe Biden holding a face mask in his hand.
President Joe Biden endorsed the CDC’s recommendation that fully vaccinated people can safely stop wearing masks.

But Walensky doubled-down Sunday on her agency’s stance, telling ABC-TV’s “This Week,” “We now have science that has really just evolved — even in the last two weeks — that demonstrates that these vaccines are safe.”

“They are effective. They are working in the population just as they did in the clinical trials,” she said.

Registered Nurses and members of the National Nurses United rally on behalf of healthcare workers.
The CDC’s mask update “threatens the lives of patients, nurses and other frontline workers,” claims NNU president Bonnie Castillo.

Asked separately on “Fox News Sunday” who would be the “vaccination police” to make sure people are properly complying with the guidance, Walensky said everyone should use “the honor system.”

Meanwhile, the nurses’ union also took issue with the fact that the CDC said it won’t continue tracking people who are fully vaccinated and might get COVID-19 again — unless the patients end up in the hospital or morgue. The agency said this would focus its resources better.

A medical worker in PPE.
The NNU criticized the CDC’s decision to discontinue tracking people who are fully vaccinated.
dpa/picture alliance via Getty I

“This means that the CDC is no longer tracking data necessary to understand whether vaccines prevent asymptomatic/mild infections, how long vaccine protection may last, and to understand how variants impact vaccine protection,” the union said in its statement.

The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Post on Sunday.


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