BOSTON (WHDH) - Masks. Gowns. Face shields.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Massachusetts faced a critical shortage of life-saving equipment.
Although cases in Massachusetts are now on a decline, the top doctor of the Massachusetts Medical Society says it’s not the time to get comfortable.
“Back to the old, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me,” says Doctor David Rosman.
Doctor Rosman is concerned about when, not if, another shortage will happen.
“The equipment needs to be there first, it needs to be there preemptively,” says Doctor Rosman.
He says he has already seen an increased demand in medical practices and dentists’ offices.
“The problem is, you might schedule your appointment for one week from now, but they’ve only got 5 days of PPE left and don’t know whether they can keep that appointment,” says Doctor Rosman.
Add to that, the need for police officers, EMTs, firefighters, and workers at urgent care clinics. School districts have expressed the need for PPE, if schools re-open in the fall.
The amount of PPE still needed in Massachusetts is staggering.
7 Investigates crunched the numbers for masks, one of the most critical pieces of protective gear.
During one week in the middle of June, the state provided more than 1.8 million N95/KN95 masks to hospitals, nursing homes, local boards of health, first responders and state agencies.
In the two weeks following, it provided around 25,000 on average per week.
Nurse Michelle Brum says at Cape Cod Hospital, front line workers are still re-using masks.
“It’s very stressful to think that you can’t have protection every day through this crisis,” says Brum.
The Massachusetts Nursing Association says right now, the state has a two-week emergency supply of masks but should have a 90 day supply.
“It doesn’t seem like too much to ask for at all. It seems like a very simple piece of medical equipment that should be easily accessible.
Congresswoman Lori Trahan is trying to do just that. She’s proposed the Pandemic Production Act, which is currently in front of a House committee.
“It will provide direct incentives to American manufacturers to establish new or expand upon existing production lines of PPE and medical devices and technology,” says Congresswoman Trahan. “It basically ensures that we never get caught flat-footed by a pandemic or an infectious disease outbreak again. That includes the second wave that we’re hearing is ahead of us.”
Just last week the state was able to get more than 93,000 N95/KN95 masks distributed across the state.
The Baker administration is now working with companies here in Massachusetts to manufacture more PPE locally.
Governor Baker has repeatedly said, “there is no such thing as enough, with respect to Personal Protective Equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
To date, the Commonwealth’s emergency stockpile, through the efforts of MEMA, DPH and the National Guard, has distributed more than 19 million pieces of PPE to health care workers, first responders and others.
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