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Hospital reinstates suspended nurses who demanded masks

In this image provided by Lizabeth Baker Wade, nurses at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., on April 10, 2020, raise their fists in solidarity after telling managers they can't care for COVID-19 patients without N95 respirator masks to protect themselves. The hospital has suspended ten nurses from the ward, but has started providing nurses caring for COVID-19 patients with N95 masks. (Lizabeth Baker Wade via AP)
In this image provided by Lizabeth Baker Wade, nurses at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., on April 10, 2020, raise their fists in solidarity after telling managers they can't care for COVID-19 patients without N95 respirator masks to protect themselves. The hospital has suspended ten nurses from the ward, but has started providing nurses caring for COVID-19 patients with N95 masks. (Lizabeth Baker Wade via AP)

At least 10 nurses are heading back to the COVID-19 ward this week after being suspended for demanding protective respirator masks, the National Nurses United union said Tuesday.

Their Southern California hospital has reinstated them and is now supplying the N95 masks to nurses working with infected patients.

Last week, the Associated Press reported that nurses at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica were on administrative leave after telling their managers they wouldn’t enter COVID-19 patient rooms without the masks.

The N95 mask filters out 95% of all airborne particles, including ones too tiny to be blocked by regular masks. But hospital administrators said they weren’t necessary and didn’t provide them, the nurses said.

Last week, Providence said in a statement that it had set up a system to disinfect and reprocess the masks, which are in huge demand amid global shortages.

The hospital was not immediately available for comment Tuesday.