One Year Later, PPE Presents Challenges

February 12, 2021

When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, personal protective equipment (PPE) quickly emerged as a trouble spot and a threat to the health of front-line healthcare workers. Nearly one year later, the focus on PPE as a method to stop the spread of the coronavirus continues.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued guidance that two masks might be better than one, according to Infection Control Today. The guidance comes amid growing concern about more contagious and deadlier variants of COVID-19 circulating through the U.S. population.

“CDC conducted experiments to assess two ways of improving the fit of medical procedure masks: fitting a cloth mask over a medical procedure mask, and knotting the ear loops of a medical procedure mask and then tucking in and flattening the extra material close to the face,” according to a study on which the CDC guidance is based. “Each modification substantially improved source control and reduced wearer exposure.”

In Washington, hospitals are scrambling to pull millions of fake N95 masks off their shelves in the midst of a pandemic, according to KIRO. The move came after receiving an alert from the masks’ manufacturer, 3M, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. More than 40 hospitals in this state got some of the fake masks.

The state hospital association said the 3M masks are popular among women because they offer a small size. Because the mask needs to create a seal, fit is very important. The 3M masks also have a moisture barrier, which is crucial when treating people with COVID-19 who are coughing and sneezing.

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