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Reader reaction: COVID-19 safety

Author(s): Deborah Adelman, PhD, RN, NE-BC

It was with some surprise I read the column “Practice Matters” from Dr. Grant, our ANA president, in the October edition of American Nurse. He wrote about reinforcing safe practices with COVID. For someone who stood with other nursing “leaders” without wearing a mask and without social distancing in May with the President to write an article like this boggles the mind.

One should set an example and not let conceit over being seen with the President override good sense. All of the nurses who stood there should be called to task for what they did when they can’t set the proper example.

Dr. Grant, have you heard of “walking the talk”?

Dr. Grant responds

I understand the concerns raised in your letter, and I believe it’s critical that nurses, including myself, take appropriate actions and role model the behaviors needed to end this pandemic. That means wearing masks, social distancing, and frequent handwashing.  These are key messages that are emphasized in two public service announcements released this fall, produced in partnership between the American Nurses Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Hospital Association. 

Everyone at the White House event was tested for the virus that morning.  As I recall, it was a group decision from all the nurses who were going to be in the Oval Office to not wear our masks since we had just been tested prior to going in to see the President.  I made a decision at that point in time based on my assessment of the circumstances. 

Quite a bit has evolved since May when the White House visit occurred, and the issue of role modeling has become more evident as the resistance to masks and associated rhetoric has heated up.  That said, I should have insisted on wearing a mask and social distancing at the White House event, and I regret not having done so.

Ernest J. Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN, President, American Nurses Association

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