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Nurses union urges state to declare state of emergency

An ICU floor at UMass Memorial Hospital in Worcester. (Erin Clark/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
An ICU floor at UMass Memorial Hospital in Worcester. (Erin Clark/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

The largest nurses union in the state is calling on Gov. Charlie Baker to reimpose a coronavirus state of emergency.

The Massachusetts Nurses Association said doing so would help protect health care workers and patients at a time when COVID-19 continues to stress-test hospitals and drive staffing shortages.

State health data show more than 3,100 people are hospitalized with COVID. Only 7% of non-intensive care beds are open.

The declaration would allow for stricter hospital visitor policies and longer quarantine periods for workers who test positive for the virus.

Union president Katie Murphy said these are necessary changes that would better reflect what nurses are seeing on the ground.

"Our managers are remote directors ... but we have been at the bedsides for two years," she said.

Dr. Eric Dickson, president and CEO of UMass Memorial Health, said he sympathizes with the nurses.

“That letter resonated with me in the sense that they didn’t feel like the government and the community was doing enough to support them during this last surge," he said.

Murphy said the declaration would provide uniform protection across all hospitals.

With reporting by WBUR's Dave Faneuf 

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