Health care professionals at hospitals and medical centers across the country are having to reuse and ration personal protective equipment like masks, gowns and face shields, due to stock shortages amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
“The situation is terrible, really terrible,” Dr. Niran Al-Agba, a pediatrician in Washington state told The New York Times. “I don’t think we were prepared.”
Medical supplies such as surgical masks have quickly dwindled in the U.S. during the coronavirus outbreak. Physicians and nurses have to frequently change their masks since they are in close contact with patients that have the illness.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that all healthcare professionals use surgical masks to cover the mouths and noses while working, but some hospitals, according to the Times, have required employees to wear N95s — thicker, tighter-fitting masks that do a better job of filtering out smaller particles than regular surgical masks.
This week, Vice President Pence advised construction companies to stop ordering masks and to donate what they have to hospitals. Additionally, Surgeon General Jerome AdamsJerome AdamsFormer Surgeon General Jerome Adams to lead health equity initiatives at Purdue University Former surgeon general: 'Unconscionable' for states to ban mask mandates Former Trump surgeon general says politicians are 'taking tools' away from public health offices MORE told the public to stop buying masks to help preserve what stock is left.
There are more than 13,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. with at least 176 deaths.