I know for many people at this point a day might feel like a decade. We are worried and stressed. I myself have some concerning symptoms (headache, fatigue, weakness, sore throat, nasal congestion; no fever), but I will ride it out at home for now as we all know it could be a cold, the flu, or even adenovirus.
Cloth Facemasks, Update from the CDC: “In settings where facemasks are not available, HCP might use homemade masks (e.g., bandana, scarf) for care of patients with COVID-19 as a last resort. However, homemade masks are not considered PPE, since their capability to protect HCP is unknown. Caution should be exercised when considering this option. Homemade masks should ideally be used in combination with a face shield that covers the entire front (that extends to the chin or below) and sides of the face.” https://www.cdc.gov/…/hcp/ppe-strategy/face-masks.html
In other words, the CDC is recognizing that an adequate barrier is still needed. I have heard from nurses that face shields are also in low supply; they are being shared, cleaned, and reused. I would assume this may be a safe practice for some face shields, and not for others.
From the nurses: One of my nurse colleague friends stated the hardest part of working in an ER is the changing circumstances; she told me that the recommendations for how they can safely care for patients literally shifts every 12 hours. In order to keep herself and her colleagues safe, she was able to purchase PPE, spending her own money, and they were allowed to bring it into the facility.
Some facilities are not allowing nurses and other providers to bring in their own PPE.
Some nurses on social media platforms state that they are buying, and some facilities are investigating the use of, what one might call industrial-grade respirators that have filters, which can be changed. Nurses have posted pictures of themselves in these types of respirators on social media pages. I have no data on whether these we will work and if this is the right move to make to be protected. I don’t know if a face shield works with them.
Lastly, nurses on social media platforms are concerned that they are being told that they cannot wear PPE unless absolutely called for, and hospitals are establishing those guidelines of when PPE is appropriate. They are being told that it’s an optics issue and that the administrators are concerned if everybody is wearing PPE in a setting like the ER, it gives patients and families the wrong image. And in this time of PPE shortage, there is the need to conserve PPE. This means that many nurses feel like they are taking unknown risks every time they work. Many have stated that they generally don’t feel safe, and they have anxiety about being in these settings.
I reached out to my federal representatives and received canned responses. I do suggest everybody do the same and consider manning the phone on Monday and calling their elected congressional representatives and senators to express concerns and ask for clarity around how the federal government plans to address the lack of PPE.
Ask them how the Defense Production Act is being used to ensure that those on the frontlines are being protected: it’s enacted, but it needs to be implemented. According to CNN, there is little evidence that it is being used to actively enhance the production of PPE and medical equipment like ventilators.
Ask them for a clear plan for your state in procuring PPE.