Sara Lonardo,, 202-412-2153

Issued May 01, 2020

Federal efforts on PPE for nursing home workers is ‘too little, too late,’ says SEIU’s Henry, nursing home workers

Federal PPE distribution must be nationally coordinated and targeted to facilities, and Black and brown communities hit hardest by the virus


WASHINGTON — As the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) prepares to send seven days’ worth of desperately needed personal protective equipment (PPE) to nursing homes, SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry and frontline healthcare workers at nursing homes called on the Trump administration to coordinate further efforts that prioritize high-risk areas: 

“FEMA’s promise to deliver PPE to nursing homes is a step in the right direction, but months into this pandemic, it is too little, too late. Coronavirus fatality rates are highest among seniors and are rising among Black, brown and white nursing home workers at a devastating rate. Healthcare workers and essential workers are dying on the front lines of this pandemic because President Trump refuses to do his job. If this administration does not start doing everything possible to expedite PPE to nursing homes and assisted living facilities so that frontline healthcare workers and residents are protected from the virus, not only will more Americans tragically, needlessly die, we will prolong any real recovery from this pandemic. 

“Healthcare workers, like SEIU 1199NE member and CNA Francene Bailey, have been fighting this virus on the front lines without the proper PPE for weeks. Francene believes she unknowingly contracted COVID-19 at her facility and brought the virus home to her family. Earlier this month, Francene’s mother died. ‘Don’t tell me I killed my mom,’ Francene says. Another senseless death, all because our nation’s frontline workers have been denied the PPE they need for months.

“Plans to mobilize PPE production and distribution must be directed toward nursing homes and states with the greatest need. We can stop this senseless loss of life  — but only if the Trump administration takes immediate action to protect nursing home workers by delivering on PPE, prioritizing accurate testing of both nursing home workers and residents, and increasing the number of trained healthcare workers at all nursing homes. 

“The majority of nursing home workers are women of color and this pandemic is laying bare the structural racism and sexism endangering Black, brown and Asian Pacific Islander nursing home workers. Despite their vital work caring for our nation’s seniors and people with disabilities, too many nursing home workers face poverty wages, little to no benefits, and inadequate training. SEIU members and working people everywhere are calling for leadership at the city, state and national level to demand equity for nursing home workers and all working people.

“Until the Trump administration takes bigger, bolder and more strategic action, SEIU members and Fight for 15 and a union leaders will not stop demanding that our government protect all workers and ensure the long-term health and recovery of all working people.”


More than one million healthcare workers across hospitals, in home care and in nursing homes, are united in SEIU, the nation’s largest union of healthcare workers. SEIU is an organization of nearly 2 million members united by belief in the dignity and worth of workers and the services they provide. SEIU is dedicated to improving the lives of workers, families and communities to create a more just and humane society.


Protect All Workers

Workers at the forefront of the growing Coronavirus pandemic recently launched Protect All Workers, a demand calling on leading industries — from airlines to hospitals to fast-food and beyond — to take immediate, sweeping, and concrete actions to protect the health, safety and financial security of all workers in America. Backed by the 2 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and workers in the Fight for $15 and a Union, Protect All Workers is mobilizing thousands of working people to pressure corporate leaders and elected officials to protect all workers amid the global pandemic and economic crisis.