Equipment Shortage Leaves Essential Workers Barefaced in Peril

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By Alexandra Ferragamo, Staff Writer

Students who avoid watching the news lately may not be aware of the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical devices due to COVID-19.

New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, has spoken daily on the matter to inform the public about the widespread scarcity of key supplies such as gowns, gloves, masks, ventilators and blood. Over 50,000 people have become infected with COVID-19 in New York state as of March 29, some of whom were hospitalized due to severe symptoms.

It is prevalent that healthcare workers take every possible precaution to keep themselves healthy, especially during a pandemic. In order to care for the public, nurses, doctors and other medical workers must make sure that they can take care of themselves first.

“There is a shortage of N95 masks,” Theresa Cunzo, a nurse at RWJ University Hospital, said. “Respirator masks essentially filter out the particles that are left in the air. These masks are a major way to protect us.”

Harbor Freight Tools, a nationwide tool and home improvement retailer with locations throughout the United States, announced it was donating protective gear after receiving 13,000 applications from hospitals and over 43,000 email recommendations from customers. The tool company said they were giving 44 million pairs of nitrile gloves and hundreds of thousands of masks and face shields to hospitals in over 1,000 communities that their stores serve, according to a March 26 announcement.

“I think it is a great thing,” Samantha Ubel, a junior broadcasting major, said. “Our healthcare workers need all the help they can get in this critical time period.”

Another contributor to the cause is fashion designer Christian Siriano. After promising Gov. Cuomo help with New York’s medical supply shortage, Sirino and his team of seamstresses created almost 1,000 N95 masks.

“It was really a simple thing and I just felt like it was a really important time because it felt like it was so needed; not just in New York, but everywhere,” Siriano commented.

The designer stated that his team has to follow certain guidelines when making the masks. They must be tested to make sure they work and then must be approved by Gov. Cuomo himself before they are given the seal of approval. They are even washable, which makes them reusable, according to Siriano, who tweeted at Cuomo saying, “If @NYGovCuomo says we need masks my team will make some. I have a full sewing team still on staff working from home that can help.”

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