Nurses say they are reusing N95 masks for days and even weeks at a time. Doctors say they can’t reopen offices because they lack personal protective equipment. State officials say they have scoured U.S. and international suppliers for PPE and struggle to get orders filled. Experts worry the problem could worsen as coronavirus infections climb, straining medical systems.
“A lot people thought once the alarm was sounded back in March surely the federal government would fix this, but that hasn’t happened,” said Deborah Burger, a California nurse and president of National Nurses United, a union representing registered nurses. Like many health-care workers, Burger blamed the Trump administration for the lack of equipment, noting the administration has insisted the responsibility falls to state and local officials, with the federal government playing only a supporting role…
“I’m not going to tell you we’re able to meet all demand, but there’s significantly less unfulfilled orders today than in April,” said Rear Adm. John Polowczyk, whom President Trump put in charge of coronavirus-related supplies. “I have not found a hospital system that is in threat of running out. … I don’t have the sense of there being severe shortages.”
Polowczyk said the Trump administration has helped increase domestic manufacturing of PPE and that demand continues to outstrip supply because hospitals, states and the federal government are trying to stockpile supplies. He blamed some of the concern about shortages on outdated letters to Congress from March and April.
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