March 19, 2020

D.O.D to Release 5M Face Masks & PPE to Hospitals, Trump Signs Defense Production Act

D.O.D to Release 5M Face Masks & PPE to Hospitals, Trump Signs Defense Production Act
Angelina Walker
By: Angelina Walker Director of Nursing Content and Social Media

The Department of Defense says they will release N95 face-masks immediately from the military reserves - as hospital workers face severe PPE shortages in the wake of COVID-19.

As the world continues to combat COVID-19 Coronavirus, Healthcare workers and hospitals across the country report shortages in personal protective equipment (PPE), N-95 facemasks and impending ventilator shortages. With the American Nurses Associated sharing a petition to pressure congress to increase PPE distribution. 

On Wednesday, the federal government announced several measures to replenish N-95 face masks, PPE and maintain ventilator & respirator availability.  

DOD to Provide Masks, Ventilators, Labs For Coronavirus 

The Department of Defense Secretary, Mark Esper, said in a news conference that the department will release personal protective equipment (PPE), including 5 million N-95 masks, from the military reserves. 1 million will be available immediately. 

In addition to the PPE, over 2,000 ventilators will be available for hospital use. The need for ventilators is projected to be far greater than the 62,000 that are currently in use in US hospitals - prompting fears that hospitals are not well equipped to handle the influx of COVID-19 coronavirus patients. 

Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed the Defense Production Act - to permit the private sector to mass-produce personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators and respirators, if needed. 

Deploying Navy Hospital Ships 

Espers also stated that the Hospitals at sea - USNS Mercy and Comfort Navy - will soon be deployed to New York and the West Coast, regions that are currently being hit hard by COVID-19. He noted that the navy ships are geared towards trauma care and not COVID-19 care. Stating that they “don’t necessarily have space, the segregated space, you need to deal with infectious disease.” The navy hospital ships will be made available to take the load off civilian medical facilities who are treating COVID-19 cases. 

The decisions follow the release, on Friday, of the federal government’s plan to combat COVID-19 coronavirus. The plan indicated that they were anticipating possible shortages in healthcare staffing and medical equipment stating, “shortages of products may occur, impacting health care, emergency services, and other elements of critical infrastructure. This includes potentially critical shortages of diagnostics, medical supplies (including PPE and pharmaceuticals), and staffing in some locations.” Furthermore, the government is anticipating the pandemic to last at least 18 months.

CDC Strategies For Optimizing The Supply of Facemasks 

As PPE becomes scarce in some regions of the US, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has a section on the website titled, Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of Facemasks - including the use of homemade masks, as a last resort.

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. (CDC)

Trump Thanks Nurses, Doctors and Healthcare Workers

President Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday to thank healthcare professionals. 

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