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Kamala Harris Calls Chicago Nurse on Thanksgiving to Thank Her for Working on COVID-19 Frontlines

Georgia Slater
·3-min read

A Chicago nurse will never forget this year's Thanksgiving after she received a call from Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who thanked her for her hard work amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Thursday, Harris spoke to Talisa Hardin, a registered nurse at the University of Chicago Medical Center, during a video call to thank her for aiding in the fight against the coronavirus and to hear more about her experience as a nurse.

Harris, 56, shared a clip on Instagram playing her side of the call, in which she tells Hardin that she's been "reading about [her] and just all that [she does] in service of so many people."

In a video posted on Facebook by Bonnie Castillo, executive director of National Nurses United (NNU), Hardin is seen holding up her phone and listening to Harris express her appreciation for frontline workers.

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"I know it's personal for you, and I know that it requires mental and emotional and physical and spiritual energy and power that you give to it, so thank you," Harris told Hardin in the clip.

According to Castillo, Harris also spoke to Hardin about her and President-elect Joe Biden's plan to invoke the Defense Production Act "to finally produce the PPE nurses on the front lines of Covid-19 so desperately need to protect ourselves and our patients."

An NNU representative told CNN that Hardin's mother and uncle have both contracted COVID-19, with her uncle currently in the hospital.

During the 15-minute phone call, Harin spoke more about her time as a nurse and she thanked Harris for reaching out and sharing her gratitude.

"Talisa [Hardin] talked about how she and other nurses had to buy their own PPE because the hospital didn't provide what they needed," the NNU told CNN in a statement. "And Talisa [Hardin] said how this was disgraceful because you wouldn't send a soldier into battle without gear."

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In May, Hardin testified to the House Oversight Committee on behalf of the NNU and the University of Chicago Medical Center about the lack of protection for medical workers.

"The percentage of patients under investigation who eventually test positive for the virus is very high, but our hospital management has consistently refused to give nurses in my unit the protections that we need to avoid exposure and infection," she said in her testimony.

Hardin later added, "When I come home every day, I live in fear of contracting the virus. When I get home, I have to take off my scrubs, because the hospital won't give us hospital scrubs. I leave them outside in a plastic bag for a few days before I bring them in to wash them."

Harris' husband Douglas Emhoff, who will be the country's first "second gentleman," also personally spoke to a registered nurse on Thanksgiving Day.

Emhoff called Juan Anchondo, who works on a medical-surgical floor in El Paso, Texas, and assured Anchondo that he would share his story with Biden and Harris and that "help's on the way."

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.