Did we ever think it would come to this, so quickly?
Hospital workers at the Miami VA are now being told they may check out only one surgical mask per week and must return it at the end of the week in order to get a new one.
According to the Miami Herald, A spokesperson for the facility confirmed the guidance on Sunday but said it applied only to employees who are not dealing directly with patients suspected of having COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Ohhhh. Well in THAT case. Never mind every other contagious thing that may be floating around.
Shane Suzuki, the Miami VA spokesperson, said the guidance was issued out of “an abundance of caution.”
Can someone please explain how reusing one mask for a whole week stems from “an abundance of caution?”
Last week, the Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General issued a report on the preparedness of all VA facilities to combat the coronavirus. The report found the Miami Bruce W. Carter Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center had “inadequate supplies” of N95 masks, air-purifying respirators, gloves, gowns, as well as face and eye protection.
While the report found no issues with staffing for nurses and other practitioners (whew), it concluded the facility could improve staff screening and had inadequate staffing for police and janitorial services.
Not that problems within a VA facility are anything new, unfortunately, but talk about worst possible timing.
The VA report also dinged the Miami facility for having no plans in place to share information with community leaders about its capacity for intensive care or details about its supply management for personal protective equipment.
Suzuki maintains the Miami VA healthcare system “has always had enough essential COVID-related items and supplies to protect patients and staff in accordance with [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines.”
“Additionally, the facility is continually monitoring the status of those items to ensure a robust supply chain,” he said.
But it’s kind of tough to see how the supply chain can be called “robust” when masks are essentially being rationed for caregivers.
Outside of the hospital environment, people are wondering if they should be wearing surgical masks or N95 masks.
Here’s what the government says about it:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend that the general public wear N95 respirators to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including coronavirus (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions, such as hand washing, to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases.
For the general American public, there is no added health benefit to wear a respiratory protective device (such as an N95 respirator), and the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low.
Another interesting thing to note: N95 respirators are not designed for children or people with facial hair. Because a proper fit cannot be achieved on children and people with facial hair, the N95 respirator may not provide full protection.
And further: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend that people who are well wear a face mask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including coronavirus (COVID-19).