How will reopening states affect healthcare workers?
Summer weather is arriving early in some parts of the country, but beach umbrellas are not a cheerful sight for California governor Gavin Newsom. Frustrated by crowded shorelines, he reminded his constituents that the state is weeks, not months away from loosening stay-at-home restrictions–if Californians can observe social distancing until then.
Other state governments are moving in the opposite direction, allowing shops, movie theaters, and even, in Georgia’s case, salons and bowling alleys to reopen their doors. The majority of Americans would rather extend stay-at-home orders, though, and healthcare providers agree with them. In one striking scene, so-called “anti-lockdown protestors” in Providence, Rhode Island were met by a line of medical workers standing in scrubs on the statehouse steps, supporting the governor’s decision to keep the state closed.
Reopening states puts healthcare workers in danger, and not only because it will likely cause a more severe second surge of infections. Surveys we conducted at GetUsPPE show that healthcare facilities are still facing extreme shortages of protective equipment. These facilities are struggling to afford the skyrocketing prices of PPE. Now they have even more competition.
OSHA guidelines require employers in businesses such as auto body shops to enforce the use of PPE even at the best of times. In the era of COVID-19, PPE will be in demand across industries as businesses reopen. Georgia’s new state safety guidelines, for example, require salons, spas, and barber shops to “make use of face shields, gloves, disposable or re-washable capes, smocks, neck strips, etc.”
This is equipment that frontline medical workers desperately need. It is already so scarce that the CDC has created a burn rate calculator to help healthcare facilities determine when they will run out of their essential supply. Reopening businesses is likely to make the PPE shortage even more dire for healthcare workers.
Bright Spots on the Horizon
The Masks for Docs MI Team, just after receiving their second shipment of 12,000 face shields acquired by @DETneedsPPE in partnership with GetUsPPE
Despite rising tensions and fears, there were bright spots on the horizon this week. We saw more proof that social distancing works, and, in a show of human selflessness, over 4,000 people in 52 countries signed a statement that they are willing to be infected with coronavirus in order to speed up the creation of a vaccine.
GetUsPPE continued to ramp up efforts to get PPE to providers in need. Working with tireless regional teams, we have distributed nearly 317,000 units of PPE in the Bay Area to date, along with 133,500 units in Michigan and thousands more across the country. Meanwhile, some who support our cause are getting creative in their efforts to help, including a writer exchanging poems for donations to GetUsPPE.
International branches of GetUsPPE are springing up across continents, most recently in South Africa, Australia, and India. As we prepare for a potential second wave of COVID-19, volunteers around the world are getting ready to do something about it.
GetUsPPE is a movement founded by emergency physicians on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, it has become a leading national grassroots effort to equip front line healthcare workers with the protective equipment they need. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on opportunities to volunteer and ways to contribute.