TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Members of Florida’s largest healthcare union gathered Thursday afternoon outside the Federal Courthouse in downtown Tampa. Many of them were dressed in black, carrying hundreds of flowers to represent the lives lost due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
“Each of these flowers represents a life,” said union political coordinator Coy Jones.
Right now, more than 3,000 lives have been lost in the state of Florida due to COVID-19.
Union members say they chose this spot at the federal courthouse to send a message to both United States Senators from Florida, Marco Rubio, and Rick Scott since both have offices in the building along Florida Avenue.
One of the organizers of the vigil tells 8 On Your Side the loss of life is unacceptable, wanting Florida lawmakers to know there’s still not enough personal protective equipment among healthcare workers.
“We’re using the same masks for days,” Jones said. “We are using the same gowns, wearing them from room to room. We could be transferring the virus ourselves from patient to patient because we still do not have the gear we need to save lives.”
She added, “This flower vigil is for those who lost their lives, including our own healthcare workers.”
Members of the state’s largest healthcare union, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, tell 8 On Your Side they are currently mourning the deaths of more than 1,500 nursing home patients and caregivers, as well as all victims, related to COVID-19.
They also say nursing home patients and caregivers make up more than half of the 3,000 total COVID-19 related deaths in Florida.
“Our seniors and their caregivers in nursing homes have suffered dramatically and disproportionately from COVID-19,” said Pearl Gooden, a certified nursing assistant in Tampa. “Senators Rubio and Scott and their bosses in Washington have been absent in solving this crisis so far, and it’s time they step up.”
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