Healthcare professionals are facing a frightening shortage of protective gear to keep themselves and their patients safe on the job, as the number of coronavirus cases in the nation soared to more than 10,000 this week.
Officials reported the U.S. does not have enough stockpiled personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks, gowns and gloves, to meet surging demands. Experts warn an increased risk to workers will place an undue strain on our healthcare system, affecting containment efforts.
Amidst mounting pressure, President Trump announced Wednesday he would invoke the Defense Production Act— a law once used during the Korean War era to stock up on wartime materials and boost capacity for medical supplies. On Thursday, the president tweeted he signed the act “should we need to invoke it in a worst case scenario in the future.”
In the meantime, clinicians have taken to social media, using the hashtag #GetMePPE to share their experiences and urge elected officials to act fast. Many reported having to reuse face shields, and some are crafting their own masks.
Professionals are generally required to wear approved surgical masks or thicker respirator masks, known as N95s, to protect themselves from infection. But with supplies dwindling, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released updated guidelines, supporting providers’ DIY initiatives. The new guidelines advise struggling HCPs to “use homemade masks (e.g. bandana, scarf) for care of patients with COVID-19 as a last resort.”
Check out how some HCPs across the country are raising awareness about the issue:
Take a look at these additional CDC guidelines on how to optimize supplies:
- Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of Eye Protection
- Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of Isolation Gowns
- Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of N95 Respirators
Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of Facemasks, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Last updated 3/20/20