Reiterating the need to safeguard and appreciate the country's frontline health workers, the Vice President-elect spent her holiday speaking with some deeply affected by the crisis.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is yet to formally assume her position at the White House, but she has already begun her vice presidential duties. On Thanksgiving Day, she phoned a frontline health worker in order to thank her for all the brilliant work she does and the sacrifices she makes to keep her community safe and healthy. In a wildly viral Instagram post, social media users saw the sweet exchange take place between Harris and Talisa Hardin, a registered nurse in Chicago. Hardin was not the only one to receive a phone call, several other frontline health workers did as well, PEOPLE Magazine reports.
The message was in the form of a surprise video call. Harris was joined by her husband Doug Emhoff. "I wanted to see you to say happy Thanksgiving," the Vice President-elect states in the video posted to Instagram. "And just for everything you do every day. I've been reading about you and just all that you do in service of so many people." In another video posted to Facebook by Bonnie Castillo, executive director of National Nurses United (NNU), Hardin can be seen holding up her phone and listening to Harris as she expresses her appreciation.
The first woman Vice President continues, "I know it's personal for you, and I know that it requires mental and emotional and physical and spiritual energy and power that you give to it, so thank you." According to the Chicago-based nurse, Harris also informed her that she and President-elect Joe Biden plan to invoke the Defense Production Act "to finally produce the Personal Protect Equipment (PPE) nurses on the front lines of Covid-19 so desperately need to protect ourselves and our patients." This is a key action that President Trump refused to take when the pandemic first hit the United States.
As a result, thousands of American frontline health workers experienced shortages of essential PPE for several weeks at healthcare facilities across the country. Unfortunately, their families have thus been one of the worst-hit communities during the pandemic. A representative of NNU said in an interview with CNN that Hardin's mother and uncle have both contracted the virus, and her uncle is currently in the hospital. In a statement, the nurses' organization shared, "Talisa [Hardin] talked about how she and other nurses had to buy their own PPE because the hospital didn't provide what they needed. And Talisa [Hardin] said how this was disgraceful because you wouldn't send a soldier into battle without gear."
That is one of the reasons why Hardin testified to the House Oversight Committee on behalf of the NNU as well as the University of Chicago Medical Center about the lack of PPE for frontline health workers. She affirmed in her testimony, "The percentage of patients under investigation who eventually test positive for the virus is very high, but our hospital management has consistently refused to give nurses in my unit the protections that we need to avoid exposure and infection." Hopefully, as the Biden administration and its pandemic task force kick things off, medical health workers will be given the resources they need.