(Disclaimer: this article was written near the beginning of the pandemic. At that time, there were not enough PPEs for front line workers. So the recommendation was to save what little supplies we had, for those people. The President failed to stock up those much needed supplies after he became aware of the approaching  medical crisis. That’s why the recommendation was to stay home, and save protective gear for those in immediate danger. It was true then that mask could slow the spread, there was simply not enough supply.)
    My wife is the Infection Preventionist at our local hospital. Her job is to implement and enforce safety standard for the hospital. As you might imagine, these are trying times for the health care industry as a whole. Her job is compounded by the fact that people are not following guidelines and are using resources meant for others.
   A hospital is not only made up of a group of Doctors and Nurses, there are many other employees that are required to run the daily operations. There are food service people, janitorial people, lab technicians, receptionist, gift shop workers, couriers, mail room employees and the list goes on. What she is seeing is this…people not in direct contact with patients, are wearing mask, and denying that protective gear from someone who, by there job description, is in contact with patients.
     The point is, at this particular time, there is a need to conserve protective resources for the employees who come in contact with patients. Resources are scarce. The supplies eventually will meet demand, but not right now.
   I went to Walmart today. I cannot tell you how many people I saw wearing mask. These were surgical mask. The fact is, a surgical mask will not protect you from infection. They are meant to keep a surgeon and the surgical assistants from introducing bacteria during surgeries. In fact, unless the mask are properly fitted, they will not provide protection. For instance, if you have a full beard, a mask, even one to code, will not afford you protection. The infection is spread through the mucus membrane. That’s, nose, mouth, and eyes. If  EACH one of those areas are not protected, then YOU are not protected. The sick should wear a mask, only to keep them from spreading the virus to the healthy. A surgical mask is no protection from the virus.
   The protective gear required to protect a health care giver include, fitted masks, face shields and gowns. Each one of these items are ONE TIME USE ONLY. They are to be discarded after leaving a patients room. That’s why we need to conserve, that’s why we need to keep the supply available for those in close contact with patients.
   I am only trying to pass along information that I know to be true, that I know is important to keep the spread of the virus at a minimum.
    Health care workers, in the coming weeks, are more than likely to be inundated exponentially, with increases in infected patients. Until the supply of protective gear meets the demand…conserve the resources. If your not sick, don’t wear an ill fitted mask…it won’t protect you, if you are symptomatic, stay home, wear a mask.
     Without keeping our front line health care providers healthy,  we most certainly will get sick and have no defenders.
     My wife, the Infection Preventionist, has yet to put on a mask, she does not have direct contact with patients. She is everywhere in the hospital…but the patients rooms. If she can follow the guidelines, we should all be able to so as well.
    I don’t write this to scare you, I only write to say, we will get through this. Understand what protection means, understand who needs it most, and by all means follow the CDC guidelines that we all know by heart now… Wash your hands frequently, use hand sanitizers when available, avoid group gatherings, but most importantly, save the protective gear for our front line defenders.