By Raynald Samoa, M.D., Endocrinologist, City of Hope and Clinical Lead for the National Pacific Islander Covid-19 Response Team (NPICRT)

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been inspired by the strength and resilience of California’s nurses, many of whom are Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI). This May and every day, I urge everyone to express appreciation to nurses by helping to end the pandemic.

As we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and Nurses Month this May, let’s pause to honor California’s nurses, who have never wavered in their dedication to us during the pandemic. In fact, some of them paid with their very lives. We can never repay the nurses who lost their lives on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we can help honor them and thank the nurses who are still hard at work in hospitals and health clinics across California.

I urge all Californians to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and to continue following public health guidance so that we can help end the pandemic. People must continue hand-washing and social distancing, as well as wearing well-fitting masks when appropriate. Simply put, we all need to do our part for our nurses.

According to a 2016 Healthforce survey by UCSF, more than one-fourth of California Registered Nurses are AAPI, with Filipinos at 17.6% and Asians who are not Filipino at 8.8%. The survey also showed that non-Filipino Asians and Pacific Islanders account for more than 11 percent of nurses under 45 years old. Additionally, news reports from Propublica and LAist have chronicled the devastating effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on Filipino health workers.

We have read the stories about the death rate among AAPI nurses and recognize that some nurses also face fear amid increases in anti-Asian hate incidents during the pandemic. This May is the best time for us to come together in honoring nurses through our actions: wear our snug-fitting masks, wash our hands, get vaccinated. This is how we show our nurses we appreciate them, we care, and we want this pandemic to end.

Visit https://myturn.ca.gov to find a vaccine site nearby and to register for a convenient appointment time. Or call the state’s COVID-19 hotline 1-833-422-4255, where translators are available in 250+ languages.

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