Xinhua/Ren Chao/Getty ImagesA staff works at a N95 mask production workshop of the Naton Medical Group in Beijing, capital of China, March 11, 2020.
- The US is experiencing a shortage of N95 masks that protect against airborne illness.
- In California, hospitals have turned to seamstresses, while in New York doctors have resorted to reusing masks to meet the shortage.
- It is not clear if N95 masks are safe to be used more than once, or for an extended period of time. They are designed to be worn once.
- Healthcare workers took to social media last week under the hashtag #GetMePPE, tagging congressmen and the vice president with pleas about getting the “personal protective equipment” they need.
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Charnai Prefontaine, an ICU nurse in Illinois, told Business Insider that she has had to use the same mask for a 12-hour shift, and sometimes, for several days to cope with the lack of extras. She’s had to place one mask in a bag and label it with her name and date of use.
Dr. Green, an emergency physician, has had to use the same PPE (captured in the photo below) for three days. PPE, or personal protective equipment, is gear that workers wear to protect themselves from trauma and infection.
Gayatri Joshi, a trauma radiologist in Atlanta, told Business Insider that she and her colleagues have been saving masks for healthcare workers at greater risk of airborne contamination — those giving oral exams, or conducting intubation and suctioning.
Miguel Ruiz, a hospice nurse in Texas, told Business Insider that he has been reusing the same mask for every visit, unlike before, when he typically used a fresh mask after every visit.
Dr. Vidya Ramantha has been using one mask per day instead of before the outbreak, when she used a new mask for every patient.
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