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Get Us PPE’s February PPE Shortage Index Shows that community facilities and nonprofits continue to lack medically necessary PPE to protect staff; N95 masks are still not reaching under-resourced facilities.

As we continue into 2021, we have achieved important milestones in the fight against COVID-19. The FDA has now approved three COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use to vaccinate the general public. Recently, the Biden administration surpassed their goal of administering 100 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine within 100 days. Additionally, we have recently passed the one-year mark since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. Unfortunately, almost one year since our country shut down, Get Us PPE continues to receive high volumes of requests for PPE. While the percent of requests between January and February decreased by 52%, the current supply of PPE available at requesting facilities remains urgently low. Amongst requesting facilities alone in February, 35% reported that they have no more N95 masks remaining, up from 28% in January. 

As our country begins to reopen, the types of requesting facilities have shifted since the beginning of the pandemic, in the Spring of 2020. In February 2021, nonprofits and community organizations made up 17% of our monthly requests, the highest percentage of requests out of any facility type. Schools were not far behind, constituting 16% of February requests. These groups now look towards providing adequate protection for their staff and the people they serve. Unfortunately, with continued price-gouging and counterfeits, PPE resources can be incredibly difficult for smaller groups and facilities to procure from larger vendors.  

The recovering supply chain and increase in domestically produced PPE has yet to relieve PPE shortages in many under-resourced frontline facilities, where workers often reuse PPE designed to be disposable, including N95s and nitrile gloves. What began as a supply shortage has become a supply-demand disconnect for many types of PPE. Small and underserved facilities are left to navigate a murky market where it can be nearly impossible to distinguish counterfeits from legitimate PPE. Even when they do find real protective equipment, prices can still be unaffordable, sometimes over 1,000 times what they were before the pandemic.

Vaccine rollout will take several more months, and even vaccinated frontline workers need PPE as an extra layer of protection until everyone is vaccinated. In the meantime, masks still save lives, and we need more PPE to protect our essential workers and COVID-vulnerable communities. 

Our February Index breaks down the rising costs of PPE over the past year and takes a look at the pattern and changes in requests received since Spring of 2020.

The Get Us PPE Shortage Index is drawn from the largest non-governmental source of data about the needs for personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks and gloves, in the U.S., based on PPE requests received by our organization. Each month, we share key takeaways from our findings and how you can help get PPE to those most in need. 

Get Us PPE’s February PPE Shortage Index Findings

Key Takeaways from the February PPE Shortage Index:

  • In 2020, the federal government only consistently collected data on PPE shortages in hospitals, leaving Get Us PPE to build the most comprehensive national database of PPE needs across other types of frontline facilities. This data is especially relevant now, as under-resourced facilities are not yet able to benefit from a recovering supply chain. 
  • In February 2021, requests for PPE decreased for the first time since September 2020 by 52%. However, frontline workers in 44 states reported they are still experiencing shortages of necessary PPE.
  • 35% of frontline workers requesting N95 masks in February 2021 reported that their facility had no supply remaining — up from 28% in January.
  • Nonprofit and community organizations made more PPE requests than any other type of facility, with 17% of total February requests. Schools accounted for 16% of PPE requests.
  • The PPE shortage crisis has morphed into a supply-demand mismatch problem. Although the domestic supply of PPE has increased over recent weeks, many small and under-resourced frontline facilities still cannot identify legitimate PPE sources or afford the new PPE on the market.

Get Us PPE has received 21,250 total individual requests for PPE since late March of 2020. Unfortunately, the demand for PPE still far outweighs the limited supply nationally, and Get Us PPE has only been able to fill less than 15% of all requests. To better optimize and equitably distribute these scarce resources, a team of supply chain management experts has developed a Fair Distribution Algorithm. This is the first AI matching algorithm that optimizes efficiency and equity in distributing scarce resources in a crisis. 


If you are an individual or facility that has requested PPE from us in the past, we ask that you continue to update your requests with us, so we can best match and provide you with the PPE resources you need as this PPE crisis continues to evolve. 

Please help us get PPE to communities at risk. A $5 donation can supply an N95 for a healthcare worker.

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Katherine Hurley