Scarcity of key material squeezes medical mask manufacturing

Rachel Spray is still grieving the loss of her fellow nurse who died after being exposed to the novel coronavirus at Kaiser Permanente Fresno Medical Center. Now, as she stands in front of the gleaming glass and concrete hospital, she says she “dreads going in there” and fears she’ll be next. That’s because like those in many U.S. hospitals, management is rationing supplies, she says, keeping medical-grade masks under lock and key. White House officials say U.S. hospitals have all the medical supplies needed to battle the deadly virus, but frontline health care workers, hospital officials and even the Food and Drug Administration say shortages persist. Critical shortfalls of medical N95 respirators commonly referred to as N95 masks and other protective gear started in March, when the pandemic hit New York. Pressure on the medical supply chain continues today, and in “many ways things have only gotten worse,” the American Medical Association’s president, Dr. Susan Bailey, said in a recent statement.