By Unnati Gupta
The Big Picture
The United States has reached over 7.5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases. While many of the hotspots have remained in the south for the past month, cases are slowly creeping up on the east coast, prompting many health officials to warn of a potential second wave of the virus.
Among the 213,000 deaths are many healthcare workers selflessly putting their lives on the line for their patients, often without the equipment they need to stay safe. The Guardian reports that over 1,200 healthcare workers have lost their lives to this virus. After researching 224 frontline healthcare workers who lost their lives, they found that 63% identified as people of color, and 78 of them were nurses. 31% “reported concerns of inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE).”
Per FEMA, N95 Mask Supply May Be Insufficient Through 2021
PPE shortages are not uniform throughout the country. Many large hospitals have been able to use their size to influence markets and obtain PPE, leaving small healthcare facilities and nursing homes scrambling to find enough equipment. Get Us PPE data cited by Government Technology Magazine continues to show that almost all requests have come “from non-hospital facilities, including nursing homes, home health agencies, and homeless shelters.” One-time donations of PPE are no longer making a large enough impact, as facilities are constantly competing in markets to obtain more.
The spike in demand often results in delays in delivery, as suppliers frequently run out of PPE. According to estimates by FEMA, N95 mask supply will not meet demand until January of 2021. On top of this, a lack of federal response to the PPE crisis has left many states struggling. For example, data from the state of Georgia, a current coronavirus hotspot, confirmed that 34 Georgia nursing homes have less than a week’s worth of masks, and 13 nursing homes have less than a week’s worth of gloves. Accordingly, these nursing homes have experienced the worst outbreaks of any facility in the state. With Georgia nursing homes’ demand of PPE up 20 times since the pandemic began, they are contributing to the 300 million N95 masks that will be demanded before the year ends.
Legislation to Build PPE Stockpiles
As we learn new things about the PPE crisis every day, states are taking action to prevent this situation from arising in the future. In particular, California has taken recent steps to address the constant need for PPE and staff. Governor Newson enacted legislation that would require facilities to stockpile certain amounts of PPE as well as increase the number of nurses during a crisis. Currently, although over 102 million N95 masks have been delivered to this state, many problems in stockpiling and distribution have hindered the right people from receiving them. Moving forward, employers will be required to provide enough PPE to nurses and other healthcare workers. Secondly, legislation in place until the end of 2021 is ensuring that nursing programs revise the clinical experience requirements nursing students have to complete. This is an attempt to help students “displaced from clinical experiences because of the pandemic.”
Success Stories: Over 1,000 Masks Delivered to Salisbury Fire Department
With Get Us PPE’s commitment to equitably distributing PPE to those who need it the most come some touching stories of excitement and gratitude. The Salisbury Fire Department received a special surprise last month. Through the Get Us PPE match program, this fire department was able to receive a shipment of over 1000 masks from Get Us PPE. The masks will be distributed at community events organized by the Lower Shore Vulnerable Population Taskforce. This heartwarming video, featuring Salisbury Fire Department mascot Sparky, is another demonstration of the selflessness our frontline workers continue to exhibit every day.
This Week at Get Us PPE: Dr. Megan Ranney, Dr. Jeremy Faust
Dr. Megan Ranney, co-founder of Get Us PPE, spoke to Forbes about the lack of safety precautions the Oval Office took that led to the president testing positive for COVID-19. She states, “The Oval Office violated every public health precaution we’ve been telling Americans to take for the past seven months.” While many are arguing that the president’s diagnosis shows that no one is safe and therefore the economy should be opened, Dr. Ranney and other public health officials disagree. They assert that proper precautions can still and should still be taken, as they are scientifically proven to slow the spread of this virus. Dr. Ranney stresses the most important thing everyone can do, “wear a mask, stay outside when you can, and minimize your social contact.”
Dr. Megan Ranney also sat down with MSN to explain the importance of knowing the president’s last negative coronavirus test. Dr. Ranney gives multiple reasons for its importance, stating, “The first is because it helps to predict the course of illness. The second reason it matters immensely is because of contact tracing.” With this information, it becomes possible to more accurately conduct contract tracing, an important step in “preventing further spread.”
Dr. Jeremy Faust, co-founder of Get Us PPE, spoke with Boston.com to express his concern regarding reopening Massachusetts. He explained that the recent spike in numbers demonstrates a need to restrict indoor dining and other activities. While Massachusetts is not currently seeing dramatic spikes in numbers, Dr. Faust has been monitoring the numbers of “excess deaths” and fears “we’re creeping up towards that pattern” of death seen back in March and April. Faust delivers a power message, stating, “There’s no reason to be reassured that the worst case scenario couldn’t happen… There are things we can and should do that could very well save a lot of lives without imposing a great deal of economic or personal burden. And the reason that I think that’s wise is we don’t know what the next few months will bring.”
NBC Boston shares similar ideas, noting Dr. Faust’s warning about a potential second wave of the coronavirus. Dr. Faust shows concern for rising cases, and states that another round of shutdowns are possible if the data continue to show signs of increasing cases.