Health care workers forced to reuse single-use masks, protective equipment as coronavirus causes shortages

Health care workers forced to reuse single-use masks, protective equipment as coronavirus causes shortages
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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.

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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 AdamsSunday shows preview: White House, congressional Democrats unable to breach stalemate over coronavirus relief It's time for Trump administration doctors to speak up — whatever the consequences Surgeon General: We need to lower transmission rate of coronavirus to reopen schools 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.