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Health Secur ; 18(3): 237-240, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-101945


The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a surge of patients that exceeds available human and physical resources in many settings, triggering the implementation of crisis standards of care. High-quality respiratory protection is essential to reduce exposure among healthcare workers, yet dire shortages of personal protective equipment in the United States threaten the health and safety of this essential workforce. In the context of rapidly changing conditions and incomplete data, this article outlines 3 important strategies to improve healthcare workers' respiratory protection. At a minimum, healthcare workers delivering care to patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 should wear N95 respirators and full-face shields. Several mechanisms exist to boost and protect the supply of N95 respirators, including rigorous decontamination protocols, invoking the Defense Production Act, expanded use of reusable elastomeric respirators, and repurposing industrial N95 respirators. Finally, homemade facial coverings do not protect healthcare workers and should be avoided. These strategies, coupled with longer-term strategies of investments in protective equipment research, infrastructure, and data systems, provide a framework to protect healthcare workers immediately and enhance preparedness efforts for future pandemics.

Coronavirus Infections/prevention & control , Health Personnel , Infectious Disease Transmission, Patient-to-Professional/prevention & control , Occupational Exposure/prevention & control , Pandemics/prevention & control , Personal Protective Equipment/statistics & numerical data , Pneumonia, Viral/prevention & control , COVID-19 , Communicable Disease Control/organization & administration , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Delivery of Health Care/organization & administration , Female , Humans , Male , Occupational Health , Pandemics/statistics & numerical data , Patient Safety , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , United States