Personal Protective Equipment – Masks and Gloves
Over the last few weeks, the shortage of certain supplies that we often take for granted has been all over social media. From alcohol-based hand sanitizer to toilet paper, from cleaning wipes to staple foods – finding these items has been no small task of late.
Another set of items that have also seen significant press is personal protective equipment – specifically the masks and gloves one might encounter in a healthcare setting. There has been a significant shortage of these critical supplies in the medical community. The need for these supplies is tremendous. Just note the question that President Trump presented to reporters in his Rose Garden press briefing yesterday evening. The President asked, “How do you go from 10,000 [masks used in hospitals in New York] to 300,000?”
While the implication of the question given its rhetorical context is that something fishy is afoot, I suggest the answer is probably far less nefarious. The need for these supplies is great and hospitals are truly going through them at a significantly accelerated rate. The increase in numbers of masks being used is a necessary step to protect both healthcare providers and patients and has led to some significant challenges for communities nationwide where the supply is simply not keeping up with demand.
The good news is that many communities are stepping up and making masks for hospital workers and others that need them. Locally, quilting groups in Umatilla County have risen to the challenge and produced masks for local hospitals. Similar stories are emerging far and wide. Community members are stepping up to help those who put their lives on the line to help us. These monumental undertakings by community members may truly make a difference in protecting the heroic doctors and nurses on the front lines of this battle against the coronavirus pandemic. To say that the work these mask makers are doing is lifesaving is not hyperbole. So let’s do our part in the community and reserve the use of these vital resources that are protecting healthcare workers and those filling essential job functions for when they are absolutely necessary!
If you truly must wear masks and gloves, then it’s important to know how to use them correctly. The order and manner in which they are put on and taken off matters. It matters for your safety and for the safety of others. The misuse or mishandling of masks and gloves can end up causing the very infection you are trying to avoid, so let’s review for a moment how to put on and take off masks and gloves with a little help from our friends at the CDC.
Please be judicious about using these items unless you really must do so. Better yet, stay inside and avoid having to use these limited, vital resources altogether. But if you truly must use these items, then please be sure to use them properly.
And above all – stay safe out there!
Photos above from https://www.cdc.gov/hai/pdfs/ppe/ppe-sequence.pdf