LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Thousands of registered nurses in California and over a dozen other U.S. states Tuesday kicked off a two-day strike to demand better equipment for handling Ebola patients.

KNX 1070’s Ed Mertz reports the labor action will include a walkout of about 18,000 RNs and nurse practitioners at scores of Kaiser Permanente hospitals and other facilities nationwide.

Picketers were expected to demonstrate outside hospitals in Bakersfield, Glendale, Irvine, Long Beach, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino, according to union officials.

The walkout was expected to last until 7 a.m. Thursday and impact at least 21 Kaiser hospitals and 35 clinics, The Associated Press reported.

A Southern California Kaiser spokeswoman said the action does not involve nurses locally.

Kaiser will remain open during the strike, though some elective procedures and routine appointments may be rescheduled, said company officials.

Among other prominent national actions will be a vigil outside the White House Wednesday, rallies at state capitols in Michigan and Minnesota, several actions in Chicago, and a rally at the federal building in New York City.

Registered nurse Katy Roemer with the California Nurses Association – which has been in contract talks with Kaiser since July – said the Ebola threat has underscored the ongoing needs of caregivers nationwide.

“Ebola happens to be a kind of microcosm of the bigger picture of what we are seeing in hospitals,” said Roemer. “We’re seeing that erosion of standards and conditions in patient care.”

But California Hospital Association spokeswoman Jan Emerson-Shea said the nurses’ union, which is in contract talks, is using the crisis to further its own causes.

“It is very much a protracted contract dispute,” said Emerson-Shea. “It has nothing to do with Ebola or anything else.”

There are no confirmed cases of Ebola in California.

Emerson-Shea said the association is working with federal, state and local agencies to assure the public that widespread precautions are in place to screen and identify infectious diseases.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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