Press Release

125,000+ Sign Nurse’s Petition Calling on Trump and Pence to Use Defense Production Act to Provide Urgently Needed Masks and Protective Equipment

For Release: 

Thursday, March 26, 2020


Andrew Crook
o: 202-393-8637 | c: 607-280-6603
Anna Zuccaro

With medical professionals at grave risk, petition calls on administration to use its authority to compel industry to rapidly ramp up production and ensure effective distribution of supplies including ventilators, masks, and other personal protective equipment (PPE)

Alaska—A petition created by Nurse Donna Phillips calling on the Trump administration to do more to ensure the production and distribution of masks, other protective equipment, and ventilators has garnered more than 125,000 signatures (and growing) nationwide.

This comes amid the heartbreaking news that a nurse in a New York City hospital, Kious Kelly, passed away from coronavirus Tuesday after working without adequate personal protective equipment due to lack of supplies.

View Nurse Phillips’ petition, titled “Healthcare Workers Need Protective Equipment Now,” here:

Among other steps, the petition calls for the administration to use its authority under the Defense Production Act to compel action by private industry. The MoveOn petition is circulating organically on social media and is being supported by the American Federation of Teachers, of which Phillips is a member.

In the petition, Nurse Phillips states:

“Healthcare workers have shown their commitment to patients and the public. We need the same level of commitment from the Trump Administration and we need it now. We urge you to honor the bravery of healthcare workers by implementing the recommendations listed above. The nation’s health and our lives literally depend on it.”

“If front-line health care workers aren’t safe how are they going to keep the rest of us safe? We say healthcare workers are heroes and we acknowledge we’d be dead without them—but we have to act like we mean it,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. “Workers around the country are crying out over the shortage of PPE that's affecting not only their safety and health, but also the safety and health of their families and patients. They are getting sick. Making homemade masks, bandannas or scarves may make for good TV, but they are neither safe, nor effective. Pretending otherwise is dead wrong. Every asset of the federal government must be deployed to secure ventilators, respirators and other PPE NOW. To do otherwise is just immoral.  Trump calls himself a wartime president, but our hospitals are ill-equipped to fight this pandemic—and his refusal to use the Defense Production Act or release PPE and ventilators from the national stockpile means our health care heroes will remain exposed and at risk.”​

“It is outrageous that Donald Trump and Mike Pence are prioritizing the interests of corporations over the needs of people in the face of the coronavirus crisis. Lives are at stake. They must change course and use their authority under the Defense Production Act to ensure the rapid production and distribution of ventilators, masks, and other personal protective and medical equipment,” said Rahna Epting, executive director of MoveOn.

To speak to a healthcare professional about the urgent need for personal protective and other medical equipment, or to speak to an AFT or MoveOn organizer about work being done to encourage the Trump administration to stop holding back, contact Anna Zuccaro at

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.