National Nurses United (NNU) holds a protest against working conditions and a gathering to "to honor the more than 400…
National Nurses United (NNU) holds a protest against working conditions and a gathering to honor the more than 400 registered nurses who have died from COVID-19, outside of the White House in Washington, May 12, 202…

The largest U.S. union of registered nurses has condemned the Centers for Disease Control’s recent announcement that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks in most settings.

“This newest CDC guidance is not based on science, does not protect public health, and threatens the lives of patients, nurses, and other frontline workers across the country,” National Nurses United Executive Director Bonnie Castillo said in a statement. “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.” 

NNU President Jean Ross said, “if the CDC had fully recognized the science on how this deadly virus is transmitted, this new guidance would never have been issued.” 

The union called on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue emergency temporary standard (ETS) on infectious diseases “without delay.” 

“If OSHA does not issue a Covid ETS immediately, we will undoubtedly see more unnecessary, preventable infections and deaths, as well as long Covid cases among nurses and other frontline workers,” said NNU President Zenei Triunfo-Cortez, 

FILE - Students wear masks as they work in a fourth-grade classroom at Elk Ridge Elementary School in Buckley, Wash., Feb. 2, 2021.

Saturday, the CDC also said it is refining its coronavirus guidelines and announced when schools open this fall, students from kindergarten through 12th grade should wear masks because all students will not be fully vaccinated. The agency said masks should be worn while riding buses and while inside schools. It also urged students and teachers to maintain 6 feet of social distancing. 

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approved earlier this month for children, ages 12 and older. 

Surge sweeps rural India 

India’s daily count of new COVID infections continues a downward trend, but numbers are still dangerously high. On Sunday, the health ministry said there were 311,170 new cases and 4,077 deaths in the previous 24-hour period.  

Multiple funeral pyres of people who died of COVID-19 burn at the Ghazipur crematorium in New Delhi, India, May 13, 2021.

The virus is spreading aggressively in rural areas, where two-thirds of the country’s 1.4 billion people live. 

Amid news reports of sick people in rural areas being rushed to towns and cities for treatment, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered his government to mobilize all resources to distribute oxygen supplies and other medical aid to hard-hit rural areas.  

India has 24.6 million COVID cases, but public health experts believe India has undercounted the infections. Only the U.S. has more cases than India with nearly 33 million, according to the Johs Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The global COVID count is 162.5 million cases, Johns Hopkins says.  

Lockdown in Caribbean 

A surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths is prompting a state of emergency and curfew beginning early Sunday in Trinidad and Tobago. According to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, the twin island state has seen 2,659 new cases of COVID-19 and 69 new deaths in the past week. Both are records.

Health officials say the variant first found in Brazil, which is highly transmissible, is partly to blame. More than 61,000 shots have gone into arms in Trinidad and Tobago, but only 1,179 people are fully vaccinated. 

 

Special Section