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Officials cite shortage of masks and hazmat suits for health workers

por Salvador Toler (2020-07-09)


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Federal officials have told doctors and health workers the nation's stockpile doesn't have enough basic medical equipment like masks and gowns to meet the expected crush of coronavirus cases.

The stark assessment, conveyed in a conference call Monday, comes as the Health Department has begun distributing supplies a national stockpile created for such health emergencies. But the administration is acknowledging the supply is 'finite' and sending the equipment out to priority areas and based on a population formula. 

With a looming shortage of beds that public officials fear could fall well short of demand in an outbreak, the White House is even considering the use of hospital ships, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Deborah Birx said. The problem: the Navy only has two of them, and they can't get inland.  

A nurse emerges from a tent with a kit to test for novel coronavirus COVID-19 at a drive through testing station for University of Washington Medical Center employees in Seattle, Washington, USA, 16 March 2020. The federal government is shipping equipment from a national stockpile to meet needs

'The president is considering all of the options. We're looking at hospital beds, ICU beds, informed by the data from Seattle and Santa Clara, and I just really want to thank the governors and the health commissioners from those states who are providing us the on-the-ground daily reports of hospital utilizations,' Birx told Fox News. 

'There are multiple options in our reserve, including the V.A. Hospitals, Department of Defense medical treatment facilities and even hospital ships. There are a lot of things to consider and all of those things are on the table right now,' she said. 

In New York state, 19 per cent of positive coronavirus cases are being hospitalized, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a televised briefing from Albany, in a state where cases continue to spike. 

Adding to the need are infections that have been identified among medical professionals serving on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak.  

The White House is considering using hospital ships to meet demand, says coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx

Steve Moody, director of nursing at Central Maine Medical Center, enters a tent outside the emergency entrance to the hospital to test patients who have symptoms of the coronavirus, Friday, ????????? March 13, 2020, in Lewiston, Maine. U.S. hospitals are setting up circus-like triage tents, calling doctors out of retirement, guarding their supplies of face masks and making plans to cancel elective surgery as they brace for an expected onslaught of coronavirus patients

In a Friday, March 13, 2020 file photo, Steve Moody, director of nursing at Central Maine Medical Center, mops the floor of a tent outside the emergency entrance to the hospital where patients are tested for of the coronavirus, in Lewiston, Maine

An auxiliary tent stands outside the entrance to the emergency department at EvergreenHealth Medical Center, where an emergency department doctor is reportedly in critical condition with coronavirus (COVID-19) according to local media, in Kirkland, Washington, U.S., March 15, 2020