‘PPE Is Essential To Us’: Nurses Reuse Protective Masks ‘5 Times’ Amid Nationwide Shortage

EVA HAMBACH/Getty Images/ Daily Caller

Caitlin McFall Video Journalist
Font Size:

Facing widespread shortages of medical masks and personal protective gear President Donald Trump is expected to officially implement the Defense Production Act on Tuesday – in order to ramp up production of sorely needed medical supplies. This decision comes after receiving widespread pressure from lawmakers and the medical community.

At this time the medical community is required to re-wear their masks “5 times per one [mask] or unless they are visibly soiled” Jennifer Lacy told the Daily Caller. Lacy is a nurse from the Bay Area, a region that is carrying one of the highest percentages of COVID-19 cases in California.

The Defense Production Act would reportedly help to develop 60,000 testing kits and fill an order of 500 million protective face masks by allowing the government to make deals with companies that would require companies to produce the needed supplies.

The medical community has also taken the situation into their own hands by starting #GetMePPE — a social media initiative designed to put pressure on public officials in order to get more personal protective equipment. Some medical officials are even asking the public to donate any sort of medical supplies they might have.

“PPE is essential for us. It is the only line of defense for me and my household from getting sick. It protects me and my ability to take care of those affected,” said Lacy. “Without a proper face mask, I feel truly exposed, vulnerable and like the person I’m taking care of will be me next.”

Individuals around the country are also coming together to make homemade face masks to fill the shortages. There is an obvious urgency that the medical community is making clear, face masks work and they are desperately needed.

As a way to try and prevent the public from over-purchasing and hoarding face masks, the Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams has said that wearing a mask will not protect you from COVID-19, and later on Fox and Friends he stated, “You can increase your risk of getting it by wearing a mask if you are not a health care provider.” (RELATED: Senate Again Fails To Pass Cloture Vote On Coronavirus Stimulus Bill)

But the New York Times and Boston Globe have published articles by health officials who say the advice the Surgeon General has given is wrong. If you can protect your face you should.

The CDC has stated that you should wear a mask when sick. But they are also saying that the medical community will need to rely on “homemade masks (e.g., bandana, scarf) for care of patients with COVID-19 as a last resort”, when face masks are no longer available.

But Lacy also explained to the Caller that people who are healthy are being asked to forgo using hospital grade masks because the limited supply is desperately needed for medical staff.

“It’s scary and risky to re-use the same mask, and feels counter-intuitive to everything I’ve practiced up until now. And you would think bandannas are OK [for the public] since they are telling health care workers to use them,” Lacy added.

With the limited supplies of testing kits and the varying degrees of symptoms, people may not realize they are sick with COVID-19 rather than the flu or another virus. It is also unknown at this time how many people could possibly have contracted the virus, but are not exhibiting symptoms.