At hospitals, some healthcare workers wrap plastic shopping bags around their heads or use shower caps in lieu of the country’s shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). Added to the dearth of medical supplies, many lack covid-19 testing kits.
Across the US, healthcare workers express concerns about how to handle working in the first wave of novel coronavirus cases. Dr. Sharon Jones, a Bay Area physician who has her own practice, has been watching Youtube videos to prepare herself of what’s to come to the US.
“We have no coordination of public health, and I am a front line MD,” she tells Ark Republic. “So I am taking all of their experience to heart. Unfortunately we have no ability to test people, we have no Personal Protective Equipment, or face masks. They are all sold out.”
Another doctor in the south reported that her hospital advised medical staff to purchase protective gear at Home Depot. Dr. Jones did purchase equipment from the home improvement store, but could not find or purchase N95 masks, the proper facial gear when encountering patients who are exposed.
Kali Alexander, a naturopathic professional and yoga instructor says she went to Home Depot for protective gear and “saw signs that asked customers who were non-medical professionals to save equipment” for healthcare workers.
The nationwide PPE deficit is caused by the world’s top medical supplies manufacturer—China. Noted as the first country to report covid-19 infections, the East Asian empire subsequently stopped all essential work, including mass production of goods and supplies. The work stoppage resulted in the rest of the globe to run short on medical supplies, tech accessories and pharmaceuticals.
New York’s Governor, Andrew Cuomo put out a nationwide ask for companies to make protective gear. While China has worked to flatten the number of cases, its manufacturing has slowly started, but the month-long absence is felt all over the world.
Also, Dr. Jones reports that viral cultures “used to test people for all viruses, [are] in short supply from our laboratory.”
Another big concern is the limited communication from the federal and state governments on the proper protocol for healthcare workers.
“I work alone,” says Dr. Jones. “I have not received any directive from anyone in charge of public health, other than general instructions everyone gets.”
Dr. Jones says she is reaching out to other doctors in her network to find out more information. As cases grow, Dr. Jones’ situation is the norm.
Ark Republic is an independent media company that provides a platform for free-thinking folk to tell stories as complex and colorful as possible. We need your help to keep the wheels churning and the stories flowing. Please become a member or donate to an organization dedicated to giving you stories that keep you informed.