CONNECTICUT (WTNH) — The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) is investigating after two nursing home workers were seen wearing trash bags instead of PPE while at work.
It’s no secret that nursing homes are struggling during the pandemic. Nursing home COVID-19 deaths currently make up 43% of the state’s total coronavirus-related deaths, and facilities are lacking PPE.
A picture of Sandrea Louis-Morgan wearing a trash bag at a recovery center in Newington two weeks ago has caught the eye of state officials.
She told News 8 she did it because she did not have access to PPE.
“I was thinking, I don’t want to die, and I don’t want to bring it home to my family and they die,” she said. “So, I was going to take as much precaution as I can.”
She said she hasn’t had to use a bag since because the following week she got a gown, gloves, face mask and an N95 mask.
DPH has investigated and believed it eas the workers’ choice to wear the bags.
“In all of the cases so far, it has been a preference of the employee,” said Barbara Cass, DPH. “It has not been supported by the employer.”
“Both cases that were investigated yielded that was the employees’ choice, and there were gowns available in that facility, so it could’ve been an issue with training we are not entirely clear,” Josh Geballe, with the governor’s office, added.
Still, the idea was shocking to some.
“The idea that workers who are being exposed to a potentially fatal virus, that they would voluntarily were trash bags instead of protective gear, that would prevent them from getting ill and prevent that from spreading the virus to their own children to their own relatives, I don’t know what to say to that,” said Rob Baril, President SEIU1199.
“Nursing homes are private entities,” Governor Ned Lamont expalined. “They can go out and get the gear themselves, but we are out there getting it for them. And the unions, they look out for the public health and welfare of their workers. They can go out and get the gear and look out for their people as well. In the meantime, I am taking this on my shoulders and doing everything I can to keep these people safe.”
State leaders are checking in on facilities to make sure proper protocols are being followed.