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Coronavirus

Missouri health care workers face shortage of PPE

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

Doctors and nurses across the world have been pleading for more personal protective equipment, or PPE, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Missouri Nurses Association said that shortage is starting to affect the industry in Missouri as well.

“What we're hearing from the inside, is that they might be okay and on the COVID unit, so the units that are treating the sickest patients, but in other areas of the hospital, they're lacking," said state director Heidi Lucas. "So folks who are working, maybe in the gastroenterology, or in mom and baby, they might not have as readily available to them.”

Lucas said the situation varies from hospital to hospital across the state depending on which areas are harder hit by the virus. She also said the state hasn't seen the peak of the pandemic yet.

"We are still several weeks out from that. The hope is that, that will give enough time for supply to catch up with demand and there will be more equipment available,” she said.

There are individuals and companies working to make cloth masks to help relieve the shortage. Lucas said that is maybe the one bright light amid the pandemic, but those masks aren't ideal for those on the frontlines.

“Those aren't nearly as effective as real PPE, so the plastic masks and the ones that are specially made to be filters, the cloth masks just aren't cutting it, and they really shouldn't be used in the health care setting," she said.

Lucas said the cloths masks are useful for the general public who may be headed to the grocery store or a doctor's appointment. She said if individuals save the cloth masks for themselves, it would leave the surgical masks and N-95 masks for the doctors and nurses.

She also said the best way to relieve the shortage is for everyone to stay at home.

"Our health care workers are going to continue to be put in danger until all of us work together and stay at home," she said.

Lucas called on Gov. Mike Parson to issue a statewide stay-at-home order. Parson said Tuesday he stands by his decision not to issue the order because of how it could impact the economies of rural counties that have not been hit as hard by the outbreak.

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Brittany Wiley

Brittany Wiley joined ABC 17 News in December 2018 as a full-time reporter. She anchors weekend morning broadcasts and reports in the early evening during the week.

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