The Big Picture
An update on the numbers of cases and deaths from the coronavirus: as of Monday, December 14, the United States reached over 16 million cases and over 298,000 deaths. The midwest continues to see steady rises in cases, with North Dakota, South Dakota, and Iowa experiencing the highest case rates (cases per 100,000 people). However, there is promising news. After receiving emergency use authorization by the FDA on Friday, December 11, the federal and state governments began implementing massive distribution plans to get the COVID-19 vaccine to as many people as quickly as possible. On Monday, December 14, Sarah Lindsay, a critical care nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, was one of the first Americans to receive the vaccine. After receiving the vaccine, she said, “I feel hopeful today, relieved. I feel like healing is coming. We’re in a pandemic, and so we all need to do our part.”
Creating a Centralized PPE Database to Track PPE Shortages and Supply
The federal government set a goal of obtaining 300 million N95 masks to supply health workers at the frontlines of COVID-19. Falling drastically short, the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile and the Federal Emergency Management Agency had only secured 142 million by the middle of November, while the Trump administration continues to maintain that the PPE needs of the country have been met. At the same time, healthcare workers around the country continue to speak out about the lack of masks, gowns, gloves, and other types of PPE. Some experts are suggesting that greater implementation of the Defense Production Act could have enabled the federal government to meet its stockpile goals. The U.S. Government Accountability Office has warned that our federal government must create a more comprehensive plan on how to deal with upcoming PPE shortages and create a system to help states monitor PPE requests. To do so, many have recommended creating a centralized database for PPE. Dr. Ali Raja, co-founder of Get Us PPE, commented on the lack of a federal system, stating, “The disconnect between what’s purported to be in the stockpile and the needs on the front-line is astounding.” This disconnect is exemplified in the process states have to go through to obtain PPE. While the federal government promises that all requests reported by states will be fulfilled, the Wall Street Journal reports that public health officials in Maine have requested nitrile gloves, pipette tips, and testing kits, which have gone unfulfilled. Many other states like Washington and New Mexico have faced similar challenges, with many turning to private organizations and vendors to obtain supplies.
This Week at Get Us PPE
Dr. Megan Ranney, co-founder of Get Us PPE, was featured in a story by Boston.com. While Dr. Ranney has appeared on CNN several times before to share her experiences as an emergency room physician during this pandemic, in October, she received harsh backlash through email and Twitter, with some calling her a “fear monger.” Nevertheless, Dr. Ranney continues to express her concern about rising case levels, warning that a new surge was coming. She said, “Come to my ER, we’re not hospitalizing a lot of patients yet, but we are seeing more of them. The surge is here. It’s incredibly frustrating for medical professionals to see our worst predictions come true and to know that it’s partly because of continued lack of national strategy.”
Get Us PPE was listed in Business Insider as a recipient of donations from Lisa Bari, a health IT policy expert and participant in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine trial. Lisa describes her experiences in the vaccine trial, saying she wanted to do everything she could to help the trial. As Bari received reimbursements for her appointments, she decided to make donations to Get Us PPE, as she wanted to help with the mission of getting PPE to frontline health care workers.
Dr. Ranney, co-founder of GetUsPPE, was highlighted in The Christian Science Monitor, discussing the toll this pandemic has taken on the health of healthcare workers. She explains that despite the emotional tolls of working at the frontline of this pandemic, being around other healthcare workers has created a sense of community that has been helpful during the tough days. Dr. Ranney also discussed a hopeful future with the vaccine’s arrival and as President-Elect Biden takes office with a clearer COVID-19 plan. She states, “This is the most urgent public health crisis of our time. I’m honored I get to do what I do. It is an absolute privilege.”