Second Wave: PPE Shortages Plague Healthcare Again

December 23, 2020

This wasn’t supposed to happen again.

After the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the nation in March, the supply chain that brings personal protective equipment (PPE) to healthcare facilities was supposed to operate more efficiently to equip front-line workers with gloves, masks and gowns that reduce the spread of infection. There weren’t supposed to be any more shortages that imperil the lives of everyone from doctors and nurses to hospital maintenance and environmental services workers. But here we are.

As Americans celebrate the rollout of a coronavirus vaccine, many of the healthcare workers first in line for inoculation say a victory lap is premature, according to The New York Times. They fear that the optimism stirred by the vaccine will overshadow a crisis that has drawn scant public attention in recent months: the alarming shortage of PPE, that has led frontline medical workers to ration their use of the disposable gloves, gowns and N95 respirator masks.

Many of the shortages are the result of skyrocketing global demand, but supply chain experts and health care providers say the Trump administration’s largely hands-off approach to the production and distribution of PPE over the past nine months has worsened the problem. That has left states and hospitals to compete for limited supplies. 

Supply chain specialists and public health experts are urging President-elect Biden to make good on his campaign promises to use the Defense Production Act to boost domestic manufacturing of PPE, test kits, vaccines and the medical supplies needed to immunize hundreds of millions of Americans.

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