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Mask deficiency is not an immediate problem, but vigilance is encouraged



With the nationwide call for all Americans to upgrade their covid-19 protective masks to the type used by at-risk health care professionals, worm shortage is not a problem – yet, according to watchdog groups.

Nurses across the country have made public appeals since the beginning of the pandemic for better access to N95 masks. These masks, which meet federal guidelines, are pre-assembled for individual users and can filter out 95% of the particles – making them the standard respiratory protection for a virus that medical experts have said is airborne and transmitted via droplets.

By 2020 many. Regulators acknowledged the problem, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which has fined hundreds of healthcare facilities since the beginning of the pandemic for failing to provide adequate respiratory protection.

In June 2021

, the US Food and Drug Administration revoked its approval for emergency use of alternative N95 masks, saying that the shortage of healthcare staff was no longer a problem.

Flushing forward to January 2022 when the Biden Administration announced that it would provide the public with 400 million N95 masks – the same month, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an updated guide on the high infection rate of the omicron variant and said that cloth masks were no longer adequate protection.

In its Jan. In 19 announcements, the White House said that the United States "has tripled the number of N95 masks in the strategic national stock since January 2021 – to more than 750 million."

An FDA spokeswoman said that President Joe Biden's promise is for "non-surgical" N95 masks, and not the variety required in health care.

While security experts agree that deficiencies are no longer an issue, problems may be on the horizon.

Nicolas Smit, director of the American Mask Manufacturers Association in Washington, said the organization is concerned about federal mask contracts and calls for them to be issued to more U.S.-based companies instead of just larger manufacturers, which can create shortcomings if companies go bankrupt.

Other potential issues are also a problem, such as counterfeit masks that will from abroad and health care organizations are not well informed about the supply in the US, Smit said. is now the task at hand, he added.

Donn Herring, a partner in St. The Louis office of Spencer Fane LLP, which specializes in issues affecting hospitals and regulation, informally asked several of its healthcare customers about the issue. He found that most people are involved in the deliveries – including N95 masks in almost every delivery order, for example – and that the lessons from the early pandemic, when many health care organizations reportedly did not have enough masks, are always at the forefront.

"Overall, we're fine for now, but we're worried that the popularity (of N95 masks) will create shortcomings, especially if the government buys them all," he said of his healthcare customers.

At the same time, this is not the first time that CDC guidance has hampered efforts with regard to personal protective equipment in health care. And several organizations are looking for problems in the future.

The American Nurses Association, which has previously been critical of worm supply, said in a statement to Business Insurance : "Transparency about supply chain and distribution to government suppliers and facilities are the key to building trust in our nurses. At no time should crisis strategies be used by healthcare systems due to concerns about supply. Communication and current data between government agencies, facilities and suppliers are the key to getting the right protection in place. at all levels. " It did not respond to follow-up questions about potential shortages in the future.

An OSHA spokesman said: "In the event that the country experiences a shortage of supplies, OSHA expects employers to follow and implement other measures, such as preparedness and crises. OSHA will evaluate employers' mask and respiratory protection processes and compliance with applicable standards, including personal protective equipment and respiratory protection standards to ensure occupational safety. "


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