Should states have stockpiles of surgical masks?

A medical technologist conducted a study as to which mask is appropriate to wear. In the study, the technologist compared a cloth mask, a bandana, and a surgical mask. The technologist coughed three Petri dishes representing the masks. The Petri dishes were closed and stored for 24 hours. After 24 hours, the surgical mask emerge victoriously. The petri dish did not develop colonies of bacteria, unlike the bandana and the cloth mask.  What makes a surgical mask effective?

The surgical mask may not be as effective as the N95 mask. However, the surgical mask is capable of protecting the wearer. In a study, the surgical mask exhibited a penetration level of around 55-85%, with filtration levels of approximately 60-70%. These numbers speak so much about the filtration efficiency of the surgical mask. The surgical mask has three-walls of protection in which the center part of the mask, which is a non-woven fabric, does the filtering magic.

In these trying times, it is important to have stocks of personal protective equipment (PPE), as the surgical mask. Masks like the surgical mask allow wearers to be protected from the deadly coronavirus. However, there have been cases of stockpiling as a contributor to scarcity.

Does stockpiling augment scarcity?

Generally, yes. Storing augments scarcity. With more supplies of the surgical mask on hold, more people will be unable to access the protection that the surgical mask is offering. But in the state of global emergency, stockpiling does not directly augment scarcity. Stockpiling the surgical mask is being put to good use. This augments the services of the healthcare system across states, not scarcity.

What does it mean to have a stockpile of surgical masks?

Storing pieces of surgical masks means that there is an abundant supply. Manufacturers of the surgical mask have outdone themselves in preventing the severity of the mask’s shortage. With more stockpile of the surgical mask, there are more chances of survival. Healthcare workers will no longer worry about their lack of protection. Also, more hospitals will have an opportunity to deliver a more efficient service to their patients.

Should states have a stockpile of the surgical mask?

Stockpiling surgical masks is essential that states should uphold. With the pandemic, healthcare workers will need more protection from the surgical mask. Without a vaccine, more pieces of the surgical mask will be utilized. It is important for states to have a stockpile of the surgical mask. Here are the following reasons:

To keep their healthcare workers protected.

With a stockpile of the surgical mask, more healthcare workers will be protected. The surgical mask is effective in keeping viruses and bacteria out of the system.

To prevent the virus from spreading.

Since the surgical mask is effective protection, needing more of it is necessary. An asymptomatic patient with a surgical mask can help lessen the virus from spreading. Also, this keeps healthcare workers safe and efficient in delivering care.

To lessen the cases.

With more surgical masks, a lesser number of healthcare workers get infected. Infected healthcare workers contribute to the overall tally of positive cases – with 1.4 million infections as of July.

Would having a stockpile of surgical mask help in solving coronavirus?

It does not necessarily solve coronavirus because a stockpile is not a direct cure. What the stockpile can do is to help in slowing down coronavirus transmission. With more supplies of surgical masks, there is a greater chance that transmission could slow down. Given the abilities of the surgical mask, stockpiling is, if not optimal, a reasonable solution.

Same with the N95 mask, the surgical mask is also experiencing scarcity. The surgical mask has an exponentially increasing demand since the N95 declared a scarcity in supply. This scarcity for the surgical mask poses a great threat to the lives of the healthcare worker  

How do health-related organizations react to the shortage of surgical masks?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is recommending strategies that will help conserve the remaining supply of surgical masks. Surgical masks should be utilized only for a distinct variety of clinical needs that coincide with the supply of the mask. According to the FDA, these countermeasures were meant to support hospitals in terms of prevention control.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a publication regarding the extended use and reuse of protective masks like the surgical mask. Extended use means the surgical mask has to be used for an extended period of time with no doffing (taking off the surgical mask). This extended use of the surgical mask allows healthcare workers to save the remaining supplies of their masks. This act has to be done with patients with a similar pulmonary condition.

Reusing the mask means that the used surgical mask has to be used again, following proper protocols of donning (putting the mask on) and doffing. However, the surgical mask does not qualify to be reused. Unlike the N95 mask, the surgical mask is fragile and less durable. It is best for the surgical mask to be disposed of properly after use.

This shortage for PPEs explains how lethal and destructive the pandemic is. It made healthcare systems across the globe feeble and weak. Although no one anticipated this virus to be at large, it proves that healthcare systems need to improve. This goes with the coordination of the country’s health department and its central government. Healthcare is the most significant aspect of these trying times.

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