As states around the country grapple with a major uptick in COVID-19 cases, health care workers are—once again—sounding the alarm on personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages.
National Nurses United—the biggest organization of registered nurses in the United States—is currently reporting "dangerous workplace conditions," with 87% of its members reporting in a survey that they have had to re-use single-use disposable respirators or masks with COVID-19 patients.
The American Nurses Association, the second-largest in the country, also conducted a survey and found that 79% of respondents "are encouraged or required to reuse PPE." Over 55% of those queried reported feeling unsafe.
According to the New York Times, doctors in a hospital in Houston, Texas—which is currently dealing with one of the largest spikes in the country—have been asked to "reuse single-use N95 respirator masks for up to 15 days before throwing them out."
Trying to deal with the issue, the American Medical Association wrote a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Vice President Mike Pence and Congress asking for help. "A significant obstacle to crafting effective solutions has been the lack of data to help us ascertain whether the central problem is in the availability of raw material, production backlogs, gaps in the distribution systems, or some combination of all three," reads the official letter.
Americans, however, have joined forces to try and prevent the shortages from truly affecting the way the country has been dealing with the virus. #GetUsPPE, for example, is a nonprofit group set up by physicians back in March to help find and distribute donated PPE. According to Time magazine, "the group had a 200% increase in requests during the last two weeks of June from medical providers in Texas." It's worth noting that, according to the same article, "state officials there have said their supplies are adequate."
Needless to say: stay vigilant, folks.
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