The Raging Pandemic and The Ever-Growing Face Mask and PPE Shortage
At this point, the COVID-19 pandemic has become old news. We are all aware of it and the effect it has had on our lives. It has, to some extent, become normalized now. We wear disposable face mask when we go out, this a new rule that we live by nowadays.
For people who are not related to the health care industry, it is relatively easier because we don’t have to deal with the workload and stress that our front-line heroes are dealing with. Protective gear such as hygienic face masks for the pandemic is important for everyone, but it is life-saving for the brave doctors, nurses, and first responders who are essentially risking their well-being to help the people who are suffering from COVID-19.
Despite the importance of medical face masks, gowns and PPE, there seems to be an ever-increasing shortage in the supply. It is baffling to see this happening, given that these items are essential to ensuring the safety of the health care professionals.
So, why is it that these supplies are not readily available? Is there a problem with the manufacturing capacity or are there other reasons? This is the question that we are going to answer in this article. Keep on reading to find out more.
Manufacturers Are Reaching out
According to sources from some manufactures, it seems like the manufacturers are going out of their way to contact the government and trying to help with the production of the best face mask for germs. But the response from the government is not enthusiastic at all. They are not necessarily chomping at the bit to solve this shortage crisis of protective equipment, especially antiviral face masks.
Palm Beach Mask Company donated 100,000 disposable face masks to medical organizations, first responders, non-profit groups, and government offices, and #biggive
One would assume that given the grave importance of these supplies to the health and safety of medical professionals, it would be the government contacting suppliers to work out a deal to solve this problem. But despite the manufacturers reaching out, the government is not looking very keen on collaborating with them to solve this issue.
The U.S. has been hit hard by the pandemic. There are:
- more than 25 million active cases at the time of this writing.
- And more than 400,000 people have died due to COVID-19.
The strain that these numbers have put on the health care machinery is immense. The brave doctors and nurses are doing their best to deal with the added workload, but it is almost criminal to leave them under-equipped in these circumstances.
Medical Face Masks and PPE Are Being Rationed by Health Care Workers Due to Shortage
It is understandable that there has been a shortage of disposable face masks, gowns, and PPE. After all, it’s not like we knew in advance or were prepared for this pandemic. But it has been more than a year now, and by now this problem should have been addressed.
Medical face masks and PPE are crucial to the ability of health care workers to be able to perform their duties. The shortage of other less important supplies can be excused due to the state of the economy, but there is no excuse for this prevailing shortage of PPE for health care professionals after so much time has passed.
The situation is so dire that medical health care workers have been forced to ration their PPE. Disposable gloves, medical face masks, gowns, and other essential supplies are being rationed at hospitals due to this shortage. We cannot stress enough that all of the above-mentioned are crucial to the ability of these health care professionals to do their job.
Do we ration our seatbelts when we are driving?
Do we ration condoms when we are having sex?
Then why do these health care professionals who are risking their lives and working in dire conditions have to ration basic supplies that are required to ensure safe working conditions for them?
If you really think about it, then you will realize that it is not like these brave heroes can just decide they will not take care of the patients. Even if they are short on PPE and disposable face masks, they are still exposing themselves to the potential danger to take care of the patients.
Why is the government not acting?
Top health care experts from all over the country have been pushing the government for quite some time now to make optimal use of the Defense Production Act to deal with this shortage. This Act basically gives the federal government the authority to pressure private manufacturers to increase their production of disposable face masks, PPE and then distribute these life-saving products to overcome the shortage. Seems like a logical thing to do, right? But the government, for some reason, has been incredibly reluctant to use this option.
Despite this baffling decision from the government, some private companies have put their name in the hat to step up during this time of crisis and help with the production of PPE. That being said, the government has not pitched anything to the manufacturers. Your guess is as good as ours when it comes to why this is.
Palms Beach Mask Company and Other Local manufacturers
Palms Beach Masks is a company that produces industry-standard disposable face masks. Despite having the capacity to produce face masks during these testing times on a large scale, they have received no word from the federal government. There seems to be no long-term deal between states and hospitals for PPE. The government seems to be relying on supply that is being imported from China, but clearly, it is not the solution since there is a shortage that does not seem to be going away. This gives us insight into a larger issue here.
Disposable face masks and PPE Supply Chains
There seem to be no local supply chains which means that there is no way for hospitals to rely on locally produced products. So, they have no choice but to rely on imported products that have suffered significantly due to the travel restrictions put in place to fight the spread of the virus.
It needs to be noted here that this is a multi-pronged problem:
- There is an overbearing reliance on imported products,
- there is a lack of local supply chains,
- And a lack of long-term contracts with local manufacturers.
The hospitals before the pandemic hit were simply importing PPE and disposable face masks on a when-needed basis. So, when the pandemic hit, they did not have a large enough reserve and had no contract with a local manufacturer who could have stepped in to fill the need. Scaling a manufacturing operation without any kind of assurance is not an easy task. The absence of long-term contracts seems to really have hurt the hospitals.
P.B. masks are just one of the many companies that have reached out to the government offering to help and have been given the cold shoulder. It is strange, to say the least, that during such a time of need the government is being this unresponsive. The pandemic does not seem to be going away any time soon. Even with the development of a vaccine, it is going to take a considerable amount of time before enough of the population is vaccinated.
In the meanwhile, there are more than 25 million people who need healthcare, and that number is increasing with each passing day. The health care professionals are going to need the proper gear to be able to deal with all the patients and do their jobs effectively.
Urgent actions need to be taken.
There needs to be some sort of positive action taken by the government here. It is clear that the imported supplies of disposable face masks and PPE are not nearly enough to meet the demand that has been created by this increased influx of patients.
It is not unfair to say that currently, the government is not dealing with this problem in a satisfactory manner. Action needs to be taken sooner rather than later before this shortage becomes unmanageable.
It is the basic rule of capitalism that there needs to be supplied when there is demand. As is clear from the current situation, there is demand, and the supply does not seem to become. While the manufacturers are bending over backward to work with the government on this issue, the government's response is very lackluster.
Something needs to be done about this problem, and something needs to be done quickly because, with each passing day, we are putting more and more health care workers at risk. Maybe a third party like the federal government has to step in here and convince the administration that it needs to work with local manufactures to overcome this persisting and deadly shortage of disposable face masks and PPE that is affecting health care professionals all over the country.
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