Friday, March 20, 2020

Health care workers are running out of face masks. They’re asking people to donate.

Facing a supply shortage, medical professionals are urging people to donate any face masks, respirators, and protective equipment they’ve stockpiled to local hospitals. Getty Images/iStockphoto

 By Terry Nguyen

The world is experiencing a shortage of surgical masks and respirators. Countries around the globe are scrambling to bulk up their mask supplies to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus and allow medical professionals to safely treat infected patients. It’s crucial for health care workers, doctors, and nurses on the front lines of the disease to have the proper protective gear to lower the risk of contracting Covid-19, but America’s mask supply is being so rapidly depleted that even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has suggested homemade masks, like bandanas or scarves, “as a last resort” for health care providers in “settings where face masks are not available.”

Public health officials warned about a strain in the supply chain for masks and other equipment in late February, when the pandemic started to spread in the US, which prompted regular people to snatch up medical supplies. By hoarding masks and respirators, civilians have contributed to the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers. (The US government is also partly to blame for overwhelming the health care system by not taking fast enough action to test citizens.)

Hospitals across America are running out of supplies, and medical professionals online are urging the public to donate whatever they’ve stockpiled to local health care facilities. Masks and respirators are typically designed to be worn only once, but in the face of dwindling inventory, some health care providers are asked to re-wear their gear. Alarmed by the lack of protective equipment, doctors, nurses, and health workers are sharing anecdotes about the risk this brings to them and their patients, calling on people to donate what they can.  Read more >>