The Fight for PPE Persists

Protective masks

Frontline health workers report a frustrating return to shortages of protective gear.

The White House’s suggestion? Reuse their face masks and personal protective equipment, reports Fox News, citing Vice President Mike Pence’s comments yesterday.

National Nurses United expressed alarm over the persistent shortages and message to reuse their gear. "We’re five months into this and there are still shortages of gowns, hair covers, shoe covers, masks, N95 masks," says its president, Deborah Burger.

Nurses say they’re reusing N95 masks designed for single use for days and even weeks at a time, or given less-protective surgical masks, according to The Washington Post. The American Medical Association warns that health care providers outside major hospital systems can’t reopen because of the shortages, and urges the White House to compel manufacturers to boost production.

But the Trump administration maintains that PPE shortages are overblown. Rear Adm. John Polowczyk, Trump’s point-person on pandemic supplies, says domestic manufacturing is up—and suggests that providers are hoarding supplies.

That doesn’t square with escalating pleas from medical associations, governors, nursing homes and members of Congress.

"It is akin to fighting a war in which each state is responsible for procuring its own weapons and body armor,

says Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee.