COVID-19 Updates for CWA Healthcare Workers

CWA Healthcare Alert


As the current COVID-19 situation evolves, things are moving at a rapid pace and situations change daily. As such, we will do our best to keep you as informed and prepared as possible. To get the most up-to-date information, text "d1healthcare" to 698-66 to receive text messages from CWA District 1.

Jump to a Section:


Fact Sheet on the HEROES Act (Next COVID-19 Relief Package): Now is the Time to Fight for State & Local Aid in the HEROES Act!



The George Washington University Milken Institute of Public Health, under the direction of former Secretary of OSHA, Dr. David Michaels, has launched a critically important survey of healthcare workers and COVID-19. The survey collects information about COVID-19 exposure, infections, and workplace health and safety conditions such as the provision of N95 respirators and other personal protective equipment (PPE). It will document the often dangerous conditions that healthcare workers have been facing since the pandemic began, and the results will be used to prevent illnesses and advocate for protections.

CWA urges all CWA members who are healthcare workers from all different kinds of facilities to take this important survey to add your voices and experiences to this effort. We also urge you to share the survey link with other health care workers you know. The survey is anonymous – you will not have to provide your name or your employer's name.

Click here to participate:


UPDATE MAY 20: AFL-CIO petition filed in the DC circuit to compel OSHA to issue an emergency temporary standard to protect workers


UPDATE APRIL 28: Do you need someone to talk to about your mental health? The New York City Trauma Recovery Network is offering pro bono counseling services via teleheath to healthcare and other frontline workers in New York and New Jersey. Visit their website at or click here for more info.


UPDATE APRIL 6: Managing Fatigue During Times of Crisis: Guidance for Nurses, Managers, and Other Healthcare Workers


UPDATE APRIL 1: Check out the video of our Car + Virutal Rally to Demand PPE!


UPDATE MARCH 24: Take action now by signing the petition to President Trump to use the National Defense Production Act to its fullest extent in order to produce the protective equipment we desperately need.


UPDATE MARCH 23: Did you miss the March 22nd Town Hall Call for CWA Healthcare Workers? Listen here:



About the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak

In December 2019, a newly identified coronavirus, known as COVID-19, emerged, spreading infection in humans.

What We Know About the Virus

A coronavirus, which is a large family of viruses that can infect animals and/or humans. COVID-19 is similar to the viruses that cause SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). 

By the Numbers

Cases of the virus have since been reported in more than 150 other countries on every continent. As of March 27, 2020, there have been 7284,006 confirmed cases worldwide, with 37,778 deaths, while 165,035 people have recovered. 
In the United States, there have been more than 162,000 confirmed cases, with New York currently reporting the highest number of confirmed cases at over 45,000 cases, while New Jersey is reporting over 16,000 cases. 

New Jersey State Laws in Response

Click here to read Governor Murphy's Executive Order on childcare for essential workers

New York State Laws in Response

As of March 19, 2020, New York State has enacted new laws regarding:

  • Unemployment Insurance
  • Paid Family Leave
  • Workers' Compensation
  • Emergency Paid Leave
  • Emergency Unpaid Leave

Click here for a summary of the New York State COVID-19 Sick Leave Law


(click to enlarge)

Our Response

CWA has been in close contact with members and all of our employers on a daily basis, and we're working to ensure that our healthcare workers are protected and can feel secure going to work and providing care. Employers must be prepared to keep you and your patients safe.

CWA has been working obtain PPE, additional testing capabilites, and safer guidelines from the CDC for weeks. We’re in touch with Governor Cuomo's office and advocating on all three issues.

Read our letter to Governor Cuomo here.

Read the Union Letter to Congress signed by CWA, AFL-CIO, AFT, UAW, Teamsters, and others.

We are working to ensure that our members don’t lose any wages if they’re quarantined or become ill related to COVID-19.

Time and attendance monitoring and disciplines should be put on hold until this crisis is averted.

While the CDC has provided guidelines and materials, there are three pieces that we strongly disagree with them on that we want our members to be aware of:

  • We disagree with the CDC that a surgical mask is an acceptable alternative to a N95 respirator.

  • We disagree with the CDC that a healthcare provider who has been exposed to a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case should continue to work. If you have been infected with the virus, you may be contagious before you show any symptoms for it. It is therefore strongly recommended that any worker who has been exposed should self-quarantine. 

  • We disagree with the CDC that the virus can't be transmitted through the air. Studies have shown that small particles may remain in the air.

CWA's priority is the safety of our members, and we're working hard to make sure that you have the most clear, accurate info for how to protect yourself, your family, and your patients during this time. We won’t stop with the fight to protect our members and our patients. 

Read our CWA District 1 Healthcare Worker Alert & Priorities for more information on what we're doing right now to protect members.

Is your facility prepared? Go through the COVID-19 checklist.

Contact Your Local

Do you have concerns about your workplace or your personal safety? Contact your CWA Local:

Frequently Asked Questions


Zhejiang University Hospital Handbook of COVID-19 Prevention and Treatment

OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 

WHO Report on Home care for patients with COVID-19 presenting with mild symptoms and management of their contacts (March 17)

WHO Report on Infection prevention and control during health care when novel coronavirus (nCoV) infection is suspected (January 25)


Crisis Services & Coping With Stress

Managing Fatigue During Times of Crisis: Guidance for Nurses, Managers, and Other Healthcare Workers

Managing Anxiety in an Anxiety-Provoking Situation

Coping With Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks

Taking Care of Your Behavioral Health: Tips for Social Distancing, Quarantine, and Isolation

COVID-19 and Your Mental Health

Resources to Support Mental Health and Coping with the Coronavirus

If you or someone you know is in urgent need of someone to speak to, there is help available. 24-hour access to trained disaster crisis counselors providing supportive counseling, including information on common stress reactions and healthy coping:

  • National Resources
    • National Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990  |  Text: "TalkWithUs" to 66746
    • National Text Line: Text “Got5” to 741 741 to text with a counselor
    • The New York City Trauma Recovery Network is offering pro bono counseling services via teleheath to healthcare and other frontline workers in New York and New Jersey. Visit their website at or click here for more info.
  • New Jersey Resources
    •  NJ Mental Health Cares, the state’s behavioral health information and referral service, will now also offer help to people dealing with anxiety and worry related to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. 
    • New Jerseyans can call 1-866-202-HELP (4357) for free, confidential support.  NJ Mental Health Cares will be answered from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week
  • New York Resources
    • New York has set up a free hotline supported by more than 6,000 mental health professionals from across the state
      • Office of Mental Health Emotional Support Line: Call 1-844-863-9314 to schedule an appointment.
  • Erie County Resources
    • Erie County Crisis Services: 716-834-3131
    • Erie County Addiction Hotline: 716-831-7007


Take Action

As things continue to change and move rapidly with this developing crisis, there are several ways that you can take action right now on both the State and Federal levels.

President Trump must use the National Defense Production Act

President Trump has the power to make a difference but has failed to do what needs to be done to keep workers and patients safe. Through the National Defense Production Act (NDPA) the President can mandate the immediate production of all the personal protective equipment, tests, and ventilators we need to respond to the crisis and protect healthcare workers — but so far he's refused to do so and instead has announced vague and confusing measures to "leverage" manufacturers into producing insufficient amounts of supplies. Sign the petition now to tell the President that he MUST use the NDPA to its fullest extent to get us the equipment we need!


CWA is urging the House and Senate to immediately pass the P.A.I.D. Leave Act, a comprehensive bill to provide all workers with paid sick days and family leave, in response to the current coronavirus crisis, and to have these benefits in place for workers and families to deal with future crises and life events. The bill was introduced on Tuesday by Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.).

"Nobody should be forced to go to work while sick or capable of spreading a disease during a pandemic," said CWA President Chris Shelton. "Congress must immediately act to give all workers paid sick days and paid family leave to stop the spread of COVID-19. Working people across the country and across the world are looking to their elected officials to use their power and provide leadership in this time of crisis. Our legislators have an opportunity to act now and save lives by passing this bill."

Send a message to your members of Congress telling them to support the bill at