WASHINGTON – If you haven’t heard much buzz lately around our nation’s severe shortage of personal protection equipment (PPE) in hospitals amid the COVID-19 pandemic, don’t let that necessarily convince you that it’s no longer a problem.
The issue has “only gotten worse,” according to American Medical Association (AMA) President, Susan R. Bailey.
“Back in March, when the supply chain for PPE, disinfectants and other needed supplies was first placed under tremendous pressure, critical equipment such as N95 masks were carefully rationed and routinely reused,” Bailey said in a recent statement. “But that same situation exists today, and in many ways things have only gotten worse.”
Susan Bailey said in a recent AMA blog post that there is still a persistent shortage of N95 masks, gowns, and other forms of PPE, seriously hindering the ability of healthcare workers to do their jobs safely and to prevent further spread of the virus.
Being more than six months out from when the virus first took the U.S. by storm, Bailey said there is no excuse for still barely scraping by, but acknowledges there are many reasons behind it.
Bailey said that the process of getting protective gear in mass quantity is a complicated one — mostly because the majority of the gear is produced outside of the U.S.
But, ultimately, she believes it comes down to a lack of coordination on a national level. A reason why she said she is urging the White House to utilize the powers of the Defense Production Act, a tool only available to the President, allowing an expedition in supply of critical materials; in this case, PPE.
Back in March, President Trump tweeted that he had signed the Defensive Production Act, but would only invoke it in a worst case scenario. Whether now qualifies, is still uncertain.
I only signed the Defense Production Act to combat the Chinese Virus should we need to invoke it in a worst case scenario in the future. Hopefully there will be no need, but we are all in this TOGETHER!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2020