Forbes: We May Have 72 Hours To Solve The COVID-19 Protective Equipment Shortage
By Senator Bill Frist, MD | Forbes | March 20, 2020
I write today to describe an urgent issue that must be addressed by federal leadership in the next 72 hours. In conversations this week with two highly respected leaders representing hospitals in different parts of the country, I received the same vital message: we must organize a national effort to develop personal protective equipment (PPE), which constitutes the protective masks, face shields, gowns, gloves, and other coverings worn to protect health care personnel from contracting infections like the current novel coronavirus.
One of these health system leaders, a chief medical officer in the western United States with extensive experience responding to the past SARS and Ebola outbreaks, described to me the predicament of countless hospitals across the country. With gaps in COVID-19 testing causing patients in hospitals to wait up to five days for results, PPE is being expended by personnel caring for every individual patient waiting for a test result because the assumption must be made that they are COVID-19 positive until proven otherwise. …
Our physicians, nurses, techs, and hospitals are answering the call to duty that this national emergency and global crisis is demanding, but they need help on both of the following fronts: the mass production of masks and other protective equipment (as well as testing materials) and the prioritization of testing for health care personnel. President Trump made the right decision to invoke the Defense Production Act. Now, he must make the production of needed medical supplies an immediate priority through executive action while Congress focuses on providing concrete support in the uncertain months ahead.
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