The N95 respirator is a facepiece that protects the wearer from inhaling airborne particles that could be detrimental to one’s health; such particles include viral agents, dust, and dirt particles. There are several types of respirators available in the market, but what makes the N95 respirator superior to other respirators is its ability to filter out 95% of airborne particles that are even smaller than the droplets caused after talking or coughing i.e. 0.3µm.
These respirators are better than an average mask since they filter out 95% of infectious agents, dust, and dirt particles which could pose a threat to an individual’s health, so one ought to wear these masks to keep themselves safe from these hazardous airborne particles like infectious agents, dust, and dirt particles.
3M is an American multinational corporation that operates in the fields of industry, the U.S. healthcare, and consumer goods. Since the pandemic began, 3M has manufactured numerous products for the normal public like hand sanitizers, N95 respirators, and disinfectants, etc. 3M is the biggest N95 respirator manufacturer in the U.S.
This product is approved by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which shows that the quality of this product is remarkable. Another crucial thing about the N95 respirators is that they provide value for money. Furthermore, the N95 respirators do not let hazardous airborne particles enter your body, which could pose a great threat to an individual’s health.
There has been a shortage of N95 respirators since the pandemic began. Since it is anticipated that the second wave of COVID-19 will likely begin this winter, hospitals are trying to stock up on the best and the safest personal protective equipment, i.e., N95 respirators. But the Trump administration has not adequately assisted the U.S. healthcare workers.
As COVID-19 cases are anticipated to rise, the N95 respirator shortage has terrified healthcare workers. Healthcare workers need a respirator to keep themselves safe while treating COVID-19 patients. If they do not wear a mask while treating COVID-19 patients, they will end up getting infected themselves and the surge in COVID-19 cases will never suppress. Hence, masks are essential for healthcare workers.
While COVID-19 was on the rise, Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital had required nurses to look after COVID-19 patients. That is when Beverly Mills got into the hospital as a nurse. On the first night of her job, she would look for the most crucial personal protective equipment, i.e., the N95 respirators, but she could not find them at all. She said: “There were no masks at all.”
After a week, she started developing COVID-19 symptoms; she had a cough, a fever, and noticed breathing difficulties. While taking care of COVID-19 patients at the hospital, she got infected by COVID-19. This shows that a low-cost piece of protection is not available and is hard to obtain as a result of the supply shortage. Healthcare workers are really worried about the shortage of N95 respirators as they would not be able to treat COVID-19 patients without masks.
Doctors and nurses have expressed their concerns by saying that they are scared for the first time to go to work. Some people have started to use bandanas due to personal protective equipment shortage to cover their faces and to keep themselves protected from inhaling droplets of COVID-19 patients while treating them. People, who are putting their lives on the line, are not given N95 respirators to keep themselves protected while treating COVID-19 patients.
Chicago-area health workers are not settling for one month’s supply of N95 respirators; what they are planning to do is keep 90 days’ worth of N95 respirators supply. This is because the demand for N95 respirators has increased to such an extent that 3M, one of the only few N95 respirator manufacturing companies in the U.S., cannot manufacture millions of masks in a certain amount of time. And if they do not buy ample N95 respirator stock, it will end up in a matter of days. And this would endanger and jeopardize the lives of doctors and nurses, who have families, friends, and near and dear ones as well.
While the U.S. requires 3.5 billion masks for the pandemic, the largest N95 respirator manufacturing company, 3M can only manufacture 20 million per month. Another primary reason for the shortage of N95 respirators is because the president of the United States, Donald Trump declined to entirely use the Defense Production Act, which could have increased the production of N95 respirators. If Donald Trump had not downplayed the severity of COVID-19, the United States would not be in this situation.
So, all of the above reasons led the Chicago-area healthcare workers for not settling up for one month’s supply of the N95 respirators. Most of the states and the cities in the USA were under immense pressure during the COVID-19 which had some of the negative effects on thee workers.
This shows how feeble the healthcare infrastructure of the U.S. is. The problem now is that COVID-19 is spreading at a drastic rate in the U.S. Is the U.S. ready for another surge in COVID-19 cases? And if it is, how long will the surge and the pandemic last? Because if the United States could not manufacture ample amounts of N95 respirators for the masses and healthcare providers right now, would it be able to do it in the future?