Where Are All the Masks?
The shortage is real. Here are some things people are doing about it.
Health care workers responding to the Covid-19 pandemic across the U.S. are lacking the basic protective gear to keep them safe. Medical workers should be wearing N95 masks, which filter out around 95% of particles in the air. And yet a nationwide shortage is leaving many without.
On Friday afternoon, Governor Andrew Cuomo shared on Twitter that New York medical providers are desperately short of masks, gloves, and gowns. “We need companies to be creative to supply the crucial gear our healthcare workers need. NY will pay a premium and offer funding,” he wrote.
Dr. Esther Choo started the hashtag #GetMePPE, urging health-care workers to share pictures of their equipment to urge Congress to take action. Providence Hospital in Washington launched a “100 million mask challenge” asking people with the ability to sew to help make masks. Designer Christian Siriano has also volunteered to help make masks. My neighbors on Nextdoor are organizing mask-making initiatives for local nursing homes.
But why are there so few masks to begin with?
China manufactured half of the world’s masks pre-Covid-19 pandemic and has kept most of its inventory for its own citizens, the New York Times reports.
President Donald Trump has said he is spurring the production of “millions of masks” and that companies like General Motors have volunteered to produce supplies. When the masks will reach health-care workers remains unclear.
What can you do?
For now, do not hoard masks. If you or your business can donate masks in bulk to your health department, considering doing so.
For a very human take on the situation, read Wajahat Ali in The Atlantic.