As more and more Minnesotans require hospital care after being infected with COVID-19, the state's healthcare system has a significant shortage of some of the key personal protective equipment (PPE).
The PPE in danger of running out first are gowns, of which there are approximately 15,000 remaining in the state warehouse, while other critical PPE supplies could last another 2-6 weeks.
"Our modeling indicates that between the state warehouse inventory and what the hospitals have in stock, the state has between 2-6 weeks supplies of various PPE items other than gowns. Those are estimated at approximately a one week supply," a spokesperson with the Minnesota Department of Health said Sunday.
Supply lines fueling more products would, of course, prevent the state from running out, but the COVID-19 online dashboard that tracks critical care inventory shows that there are no pending deliveries for gowns and surgical masks, which are also running low.
Approximately 240,000 surgical masks have been distributed to healthcare workers out of 243,000 obtained, while there are none in stock and none pending delivery. There are about 12,000 face shields in the warehouse with another 25,000 to be delivered, and more than 10 million gloves on order pending delivery.
"Please note that this does not include what hospitals and other healthcare entities have in stock. We have orders in with both the federal government and private vendors," the spokesperson said, meaning not all facilities are necessarily in danger of running out in the same 2-6 week period.
The Department of Health has repeatedly noted that one of the main reasons Gov. Tim Walz placed Minnesota in a stay-at-home order, which could be extended beyond April 10, was to provide healthcare facilities more time to stockpile PPE, ventilators and other key supplies.
Minnesota is in direct competition with other states desperately searching for PPE. To fill that void, the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) is working with public and private companies to bring in more supplies and distribute them to locations where they're needed most.
The shortage has prompted the SEOC to make it clear on the homepage of its website that donations of unused PPE are greatly welcome.
"Individuals who have small quantities of new, unopened and unused personal protective equipment (PPE) to donate to COVID-19 response efforts should contact their county or tribal emergency manager. Examples of recommended PPE items are gowns, masks, respirators, face shields and gloves."
Other states that have experienced PPE shortages include New York, where staff at some hospitals in March posed for pictures wearing black garbage bags as replacement gowns.