“There’s absolutely no way to protect myself,” said Dr. Faezah A. Bux, an anesthesiologist in central Kentucky who in recent days had to intubate several elderly patients in respiratory distress without the respirator masks and protective eye gear recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Not only can I not protect myself, I can’t protect my patients.”…

“We are at war with no ammo,” said a surgeon in Fresno, Calif., who said she had no access to even the most basic surgical masks in her outpatient clinic and has a limited supply of the tight-fitting respirator masks in the operating room. Like many doctors interviewed, she asked not to be quoted by name, worried about retribution from administrators for speaking out…

Federal health officials say respirator masks can be used for eight hours of continuous or intermittent use and should be discarded after treating an infected patient. Many doctors around the country said they are being given just one, to use indefinitely, and they spray it down with Lysol or wipe it off, not knowing whether that will help preserve it.

Many doctors and nurses say their fears and frustrations have been compounded by guidance from the C.D.C. that they consider unclear and misleading. Recently it changed its guidance to say that regular surgical masks are “an acceptable alternative” when examining or treating a coronavirus patient. The change came given the shortages of the special N95 respirator masks. They get their name because they can filter out 95 percent of all airborne particles when used correctly.