As the heath care system strains to accommodate the unprecedented challenge of the coronavirus outbreak, many medical professionals on the front lines do not have adequate protection.
Some are reusing masks and gloves. Others have taken to social media with public pleas for help using the hashtag #GetMePPE, an acronym for personal protective equipment. Without proper covering, every new bedside visit might prove fatal, especially for older physicians and their families.
And already, dozens of health care workers across the country have falen ill. Hundreds more have been forced into quarantine.
“The sky is falling,” one doctor wrote in an opinion piece for The New York Times.
“We’re heading into the abyss,” wrote another.
Why is there a shortage of protective masks?
The coronavirus is transmitted by droplets from coughing or contaminated surfaces, so properly applied protective gear can go a long way toward keeping doctors safe.
At minimum, doctors should be wearing gloves, gowns, eye gear and masks. But for weeks, hospitals have been running dangerously low on essential supplies
Many doctors said they were being given just one mask, to use indefinitely. Between patients, they spray it down with a disinfectant or wipe it off, hoping for the best. But they feared that being forced to reuse a mask might infect patients who did not yet have the virus.