Intended for healthcare professionals


Covid-19: the crisis of personal protective equipment in the US

BMJ 2020; 369 doi: (Published 03 April 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;369:m1367

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  1. Douglas Kamerow, associate editor
  1. The BMJ
  1. dkamerow{at}

Shortages are occurring amid widely varying demand, use, and supply strategies, Douglas Kamerow finds

As covid-19 makes its way through the US, in some locations doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers are facing the frightening prospect of work without personal protective equipment (PPE). A national survey of hospital infection control professionals reported that many medical facilities are nearing the end of their PPE supplies, despite frantic attempts to obtain more. As of 27 March, nearly a third of facilities were almost out of face masks, 13% had no more plastic face shields, and about 25% were completely or nearly out of gowns.1

The mayors of many large and small US cities have also reported PPE shortages. Responding to a national survey, 91% of 213 mayors said their cities had inadequate supplies of face masks and 88% said they didn’t have enough PPE for their medical and first responder personnel.2 The situation has got so bad that in some places, such as …

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