Skip to main content
Publish date:

Coronavirus: America's hospitals are running out of protective equipment

The CDC is even suggesting medical staff could use scarves to protect themselves as a last resort.
Author:

Not only are American healthcare facilities struggling to keep up with testing demands in response to the coronavirus pandemic, but hospital workers are now faced with a dwindling supply of protective equipment. 

Namely, stocks of facemasks and protective shields are running low, and a massive demand around the nation and globe has made restocking those critical supplies difficult. 

Without providing specifics about how long those key supplies could last at Minnesota healthcare facilities, Kris Ehresmann of the Minnesota Department of Health acknowledged Thursday that they're doing all they can to get more.  

"We are waiting to hear from the other commercial diagnostic labs to see if they have the resources they need. I know that many of them have not been able to get what they need," she said. 

"A lot of the decisions that have been made, including the most recent executive order by the governor, are all intended to slow down the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) so it can be redirected to the areas that need it the most. But it is a problem nationally and internationally. Minnesota will be no different. This is a challenge."

The stark reality Minnesota hospital workers are facing was detailed by Minnesota Wild team reporter Dan Myers, whose wife is a nurse manager at a Twin Cities hospital. Myers wrote specifically about the shortage of N-95 respirator masks and clear plastic shields. 

"This isn't something that could happen in a week or two, this is something that could happen TODAY," Myers wrote. "Medical professionals are already re-using supplies they shouldn't be (at their own peril) because treating people with used protection is better than going in with nothing at all. These same people to home at the end of the day to their own families wondering if it is safe to do so.

Myers pleaded that companies with extra masks and shields donate them to healthcare facilities now, adding that he would even pick them up and deliver them to places of need. 

"Our medical heroes are putting their health at risk for us," Myers added. "The least we can do is give them the tools needed to keep themselves and their own families safe." 

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention's website has a page specifically for healthcare professionals regarding protective equipment in the fight against COVID-19. 

On that page, the CDC says there "is an acute shortage of facemasks and other vital protective equipment," and notes that in a worst-case scenario medical staff can "use homemade masks" like a "bandana" or "scarf" for protection. 

Sign up for our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

Gov. Tim Walz has ordered all Minnesota hospitals and clinics to postpone all elective treatments, "including non-emergent elective dental procedures, to focus health care capacity and equipment on responding to COVID-19 cases and other emergencies."

Protective equipment for workers is one issue while a lack of ventilators in Minnesota is another possible issue in the event that more COVID-19 patients require hospitalization and help breathing.

To combat the issue, Medtronic has increased production by more than 40 percent of ventilators to supply healthcare systems around the world. 

"It's a problem everywhere and it will be a problem here," Ehresmann concluded Thursday. 

Next Up

D'Angelo Russell

With KAT out, Timberwolves can't upset Nets

D'Angelo Russell stepped up but couldn't overcome Brooklyn's firepower.

Everson Griffen Vikings dot com

Everson Griffen confirms he has bipolar disorder

"I’ve been running from it a long time. I’m not ashamed of it anymore.”

Angela Renee Jones, St. Cloud murder suspect

St. Cloud suspect now charged in two local murder cases

Both murders happened within a day of each other in June.

st anthony 3 crop

Twin Cities police ask for help finding missing 16-year-old

Police say all her family and friends have been contacted, and none of them know where she is.

mpd suspect 12.3.21 - 1 - CROP

MPD releases photos of shooting suspect, asks for public's help

The man is wanted in connection with a fatal shooting that happened Wednesday evening.

redmons popcorn colbert 2

Support grows for Redmon's Popcorn after shop's sudden closure

The county also commented on the situation, saying it hopes to help owner Zack Redmon.

prior lake high school

Prior Lake HS investigating another 'racist' video involving student

The principal said the social media video was reported to them this week.

Screen Shot 2021-12-03 at 3.08.27 PM

Walz: Minnesota has secured 1 million rapid, at-home COVID tests for kids

It comes as the delta variant continues to surge in Minnesota, and the omicron variant might follow.

boundary waters

Forest Service limiting permits to BWCAW due to damage, overcrowding

Visitors have been cutting down trees and have been forced to compete for campsites.

police lights

Lockdown update: Armed man threatened to go to Kimball High School

A high school and elementary school near St. Cloud went into lockdown as a precaution.

chaska sewer

People in Chaska are flushing the wrong crap down the toilet

Water and sewer crews in Chaska have had to clean the same pump four times in the past seven days.

Related

Screen Shot 2020-03-19 at 7.32.07 AM

Hospital staff: 'I stayed at work for you, you stay at home for us'

Doctors in Minnesota are urging people to stay home if they can.

coronavirus, covid-19

Minnesota Hospital Association: We are out of time to be 'Minnesota Nice'

The group is launching an ad campaign that holds nothing back about the seriousness of the situation in Minnesota hospitals.

covid nurse

Hospitals hit lowest point of staffed bed availability during pandemic

Not even the massive fall/winter surge in 2020 led to a capacity crisis like this.

coronavirus

St. Cloud Hospital nurse: 'You’ll get a bed if the timing is right'

She says staff at the hospital are stretched to the limits.

covid-19, coronavirus

Health officials: Minnesota hospitals experiencing a 'capacity crisis'

Malcolm called the current capacity crisis for pediatric cases "quite extraordinary."

coronavirus, masks, covid-19

No matter the testing availability, Minnesotans urged to stay home

The message from state health officials is loud and clear.

coronavirus, covid-19

Coronavirus total now at 262 in Minnesota

This doesn't reflect the total number of COVID-19 cases in Minnesota, just those who have been tested.

Hennepin Healthcare, hospital, coronavirus

Arenas, stadiums to supplement hospitals during COVID-19 outbreak

It's not yet known which stadiums and arenas will be utilized.