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Preventionists Report Widespread Shortages of Protective Equipment

Infection preventionists report lack of N95s, masks, face shields in facilities in every state

Patient in isolation

TUESDAY, March 31, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly half of U.S. health care facilities surveyed are out of or almost out of respirators to use while caring for patients with COVID-19, according to the results of a national survey of infection prevention experts released March 27 by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).

APIC sent a seven-question online survey to its 11,922 U.S.-based members. The analysis included responses from 1,141 infection preventionists from all 50 states collected March 23 to 25.

The survey showed that 49.2 percent of respondents said they do not have enough face shields, 36.5 percent said they are almost out, and 12.6 percent are completely out. Just under one-third (31 percent) report that their mask supply is almost out or completely out. Furthermore, hand sanitizer is also in short supply at more than one-fourth of facilities (28.3 percent). Additional personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies have been secured through state or local sources (29.4 percent) and from private donations (24.6 percent), and 17.2 percent have created their own (e.g., sewing masks). One in eight respondents reported receiving supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile. Additionally, more than two-thirds of facilities (67.1 percent) have only one or less than one full-time equivalent infection preventionist on staff to devise safe protocols for protecting against COVID-19.

"Shortages of critical PPE and disinfection supplies will severely jeopardize our ability to safely treat patients and protect health care workers who are putting their lives on the line to fight this disease," Katrina Crist, the chief executive officer at APIC, said in a statement. "As it stands now, infection preventionists are being forced to recommend unproven measures for PPE."

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