N95 Respirator Shortage Concerns
As most of you know, the CDC is responding to an outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and which has now been detected in 50 locations internationally, including cases in the United States. The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).
In addition to the obvious health concerns related to the continued spread of the coronavirus globally, the availability of medical and respirator masks is critically low.
China is the world’s largest producer of medical and respirator masks with a reported daily capacity of 20 million pieces, but by the estimate of its manufacturers domestic demand alone is around 50 to 60 million per day.
Macon Occupational Medicine (MOM) performs a significant number of respirator fit tests for companies throughout Middle Georgia. We have already been impacted by the shortage of masks and may have to temporarily cease offering fit test services.
The CDC offers some strategies for optimizing the supply of N95 respirators that are definitely worth reading. Furthermore, they recommend guidance for extended use and limited reuse of N95 filtering facepiece respirators that are specific to healthcare settings. If you wish to read more about it, please click the links below.
As face masks fly off the shelves amid rising fears over the spread of the COVID-19 illness, a 2017 guide has resurfaced from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute for Occupation Safety and Health about which types of beards and mustaches would make those masks less effective and which are OK.
Interim Guidance for Businesses & Employers by the CDC
- Actively encourage sick employees to stay home.
- Separate sick employees.
- Emphasize staying home when sick, respiratory etiquette & hand hygiene by all employees.
- Perform routine environmental cleaning.
To prevent stigma and discrimination in the workplace, use only the guidance described above to determine risk of coronavirus. Do not make determinations of risk based on race or country of origin, and be sure to maintain confidentiality of people with confirmed COVID-29. There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features of COVID-19 and investigations are ongoing. Updates are available on CDC’s web page at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/covid19.
CDC: How Americans should prepare for school and workplace closures due to coronavirus outbreak
Public health officials, concerned about the possible spread of the coronavirus-borne disease in U.S. communities, are urging Americans to ask schools and workplaces about contingency plans.
This may include questions about the possibility of school and day-care closures, policies around working at home and using videoconferencing tools for meetings, and telehealth options for medical care.
MarketWatch-CDC: How Americans Should Prepare
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