Despite increased production of protective gear, levels of N95 face masks are lower than recommended at many health-care facilities.
Manufacturers and health officials are reporting shortages of N95 masks, critical protective equipment for frontline workers (WSJ). Although supplies of masks, gloves, and other equipment have improved since the start of the pandemic, new Covid-19 surges around the country are making it difficult for health care facilities to keep up with demand for N95 masks.
Many facilities are being forced to ration and reuse supplies. In Michigan, approximately two-thirds of health systems report less than a three-week supply of protective equipment, far below the state’s recommended 90-day supply. In New Mexico, 90% of hospitals are now reusing N95 masks. State health officials around the country expect shortages to be exacerbated in the coming weeks as Covid-19 cases continue to rise.
Manufacturers are scrambling to keep up, ramping up production, and working with state officials to direct supplies to areas in greatest need. 3M, the largest manufacturer of N95 masks in the country, is producing four times the number of N95 masks per month compared to pre-pandemic production. Even so, Chief Executive Mike Roman told reporters, “N95s are still in high demand. We have more demand than we can supply.”