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US Nurses Strike Over Lack of Ebola Safeguards

Registered nurses and supporters protest outside a Kaiser Permanente facility in San Francisco against a lack of training in combating Ebola, Nov. 11, 2014.

Nurses across the United States are planning a national day of action Wednesday to demand better protection and training against Ebola.

Up to 18,000 nurses went on strike Tuesday in the western state of California, protesting what they said was a lack of optimal safeguards against the disease.

The two-day walkout targets hospitals and clinics belonging to U.S. health care giant Kaiser Permanente. The nurses' union has been in contract talks with Kaiser since July.

Kaiser, meanwhile, said it has been preparing its staff for Ebola. The company said calling a strike now, during flu season and when the nation is concerned about the risk of Ebola, "seems particularly irresponsible."

But the nurses said their focus was on the erosion of patient care standards.

Nurses nationwide will join the California employees Wednesday in their call for better protocols.

Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, the organization behind the day of action, said that when it comes to Ebola, "the message nurses are being given across the nation is that they are expendable. ... You don't ask nurses to put their lives on the line and then not protect them."

National Nurses United is calling for "rigorous training" for all caregivers who might interact with Ebola patients. It says they should be provided with full-body hazardous-materials suits and other appropriate protective equipment.

Ebola fears spread in the U.S. last month when two nurses contracted Ebola at a Texas hospital after treating a Liberian man who died of the disease. Both women have since recovered.