Medical Supplies & Coverage
Due to the global nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, global supply chains have been disrupted and healthcare workers lack personal protective equipment and life-saving ventilators. Here, we outline specific problems related to medical shortages, policies currently in place to help mitigate this, and highlight areas that are still lacking.
Due to a shortage of PPE (N95 respirators and surgical masks, isolation gowns, eye protection), healthcare workers have been forced to adopt risky practices like rationing and re-using equipment.
Ventilator shortages have also forced hospitals to experiment and re-purpose other medical equipment (e.g. sleep apnea machines).
The federal government's lack of preparedness and slow response (delay in using the Defense Production Act, insufficient national stockpile) has exacerbated medical shortages.
CURRENT GAPS in POLICY
The federal government’s lack of a coordinated response has left many states fending for themselves. There is not enough PPE in the national stockpile. Local and state officials are forced to outbid each other, as well as other countries and the federal government, to secure dwindling supplies.
As some states begin to gradually re-open, face masks will become necessary for workers and members of the general public - further exacerbating current shortages.