Emergency physicians and other healthcare providers on the frontlines of health systems around the country are facing severe shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), like the N95 masks, that will leave many insufficiently protected in the midst of this outbreak. The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) is receiving reports of workarounds that many health professsionals are trying, such as spraying their masks with bleach at the end of each day and hanging them up at home to dry. While done out of necessity, such workarounds compromise the protection that PPE is designed to provide for healthcare providers and patients.
The Administration and Congress must exhaust every option available to increase PPE production and prioritize distribution to emergency physicians and other frontline providers.
We must urge Congress to take action now to fill these gaps with every resource we have available, including from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS). We can’t afford sickness and reductions in the healthcare workforce on the frontlines of the coronavirus outbreak because of shortages of essential PPE.
Although we appreciate that the Administration announced that PPE production is ramping up, we need these supplies now and we’re going to need significantly more as cases multiply. While we wait, PPE supplies in the SNS should be depleted and immediately distributed to frontline health care personnel—this is the public health emergency that the stockpile was created for.
Contact your U.S. Senators and House member and urge them to exhaust every option available to increase PPE production and prioritize distribution to frontline healthcare providers.
For more information and resources on COVID-19 such as facility and personal preparation checklists, policy recommendations, and the latest clinical guidelines for emergency care teams, visit www.acep.org/COVID19 .
The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) is also keeping patients informed on how to stay safe at www.emergencyphysicians.org/COVID19.