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Nursing Homes Could Run Out Of Coronavirus Protective Gear

A worker assists a resident at the Ida Culver House Ravenna retirement home on March 10, 2020 in north Seattle, Washington. (John Moore/Getty Images)
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Nursing home spokespeople in California say they risk running out of protective masks and gowns as soon as next week. Supplies are dwindling as health care providers struggle to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

“There is no backup. It’s gotten to the point that the vendors don’t have the product to sell,” said Jason Belden, the director of emergency management for the California Association of Health Facilities.

The group represents hundreds of nursing homes across California.

He says that most nursing homes only have a seven-day supply of personal protective gear.

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“There is not going to be enough if this expands anywhere past the capacity it is now,” Belden said. “The supply chain has not been restored yet, and it’s been essentially broken for a month and a half.”

Masks and gowns help keep health care workers from getting infected and from spreading the virus to elderly and disabled patients, who are especially susceptible.

“If a facility has three days of supplies to manage an isolation patient and they get one resident discharged from the hospital meeting those needs, they are going to expire those resources pretty quickly,” Belden said.

A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigation found that the lack of protective equipment for health care workers contributed to an outbreak of coronavirus that was linked to 30 deaths at nursing homes in Washington state.

Many states, including California, have asked the federal government to disperse medical supplies from the national strategic stockpile, though NPR reports there’s a limit to how much it can help in a crisis.

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