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First lady Jill Biden visits Las Vegas nurses, school

Updated May 6, 2021 - 9:52 am

First lady Jill Biden met with local nurses and health care workers at University Medical Center on Thursday morning, handing out White House-shaped cookies and posing for photos for about 25 minutes during the hospital’s 7 a.m. shift change.

“It was nice that Washington, our president, our first lady supports Nevada and supports nursing and UMC hospital,” said Amy Runge, a clinical nurse manager at UMC. “It’s huge. I’m proud. I’m proud of our leadership and proud of where I work.”

Runge said she saw tears in some of her coworkers’ eyes as they briefly met Biden. She held her frosted cookie — sugar, a White House spokesman noted.

“I don’t know if I even want to eat it because it’s so pretty,” she said. “I might just freeze and save it.”

Biden did not make any sort of speech or speak to the news media during the brief visit. She was flanked on all sides during the meet-and-greet by Nevada Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen and Reps. Dina Titus and Susie Lee.

Service Employees International Union Local 1107 Executive Director Grace Vergara-Mactal also stood with Biden as she met with the union’s workers.

“What the president is doing right now (during) this COVID-19 is remarkable,” Vergara-Mactal said. Most of the workers were excited and thanked Biden for her visit, Vergara-Mactal added, and the first lady in turn thanked the hospital staff for more than a year of tough work.

Biden started her morning at Booker Elementary School, where she delivered flowers to Juliana Urtubey, who became the first Nevadan to win the Council of Chief State School Officers’ national teacher of the year award. Biden is a community college professor.

The Republican National Committee criticized Jill Biden’s visit in a statement that referenced immigration.

“It’s been 43 days since Joe Biden tapped (Vice President) Kamala Harris to manage the crisis, and neither of them has even bothered to show up at the border,” the statement from committee spokesman Keith Schipper reads. “Jill Biden has no business heading West to Nevada without stopping to visit the crisis the Biden administration has created at the southern border.”

The first lady visited Salt Lake City on Wednesday before flying into Las Vegas, where she was greeted by Gov. Steve Sisolak, Nevada’s first lady Kathy Sisolak, Rosen, Titus, Lee and Clark County Commission Chair Marilyn Kirkpatrick.

Biden traveled to Colorado Springs, Colorado, after her Las Vegas stop.

Contact Rory Appleton at rappleton@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0276. Follow @RoryDoesPhonics on Twitter.

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