Isabella McCartney

How communities are responding to a shortage of masks for the medical community

Doctors all over the country are in need of masks to protect themselves from COVID 19. With the outbreak of coronavirus medical masks are running out. Hospitals are in need of about 500 million masks nationwide, local stores such as Joann’s Fabrics have responded to the crisis by giving free kits to customers to make both face masks and gowns. Dr. Patrick Couchot a medical resident in Clearwater, Fl said, “We are already starting to get low on PPE (personal protective equipment) so now instead of having masks available everywhere, we have to ask the front desk on every floor for a mask. I end up wearing the same mask throughout my shift, and I will likely double up if I have to go into a room with a person under investigation (someone who may have coronavirus).”  Dr. Couchot continues, “there are people in the community who have sewn masks for us, with pockets allowing for filters to be placed inside.”

Although their generosity is greatly appreciated healthcare workers need sterile protective gear in order to properly treat COVID 19 patients and protect themselves. N95 masks are so scarce that hospitals such as Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, have given their healthcare works a single mask to be reused and worn for as long as possible. According to the FDA, N95 surgical masks are used as, “protective equipment that are used to protect the wearer from airborne particles and from liquid contaminating the face.” People all over the country are responding to this crisis.  In a Reddit post, a 14-year-old student wrote, “I’ve been 3D printing face shields for local hospitals with MasksForDocs. In the past 3 days, I have made 17, with many more to come.”

Factories like 3M Co.’s respirator mask factory in Aberdeen, South Dakota, have ramped up production in order to meet the demand on the market. Going forward there is still a lot of work to be done about the shortage. Hospitals need proper equipment in order to treat patients.