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The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the entire world and the need to fight it has been a battle in every country. In the United States, essential protective equipment like the N95 mask is starting to disappear from most major retail stores.
Home Depot and N95 mask supply
Initially, large retailers such as Home Depot sold N95 masks or N95 respirators. But the medical face mask now ceases to be sold from Home Depot, which has been the case since April. It is harder than ever now to find an N95 mask supplier. The reason for the stopping of N95 mask selling in Home Depot is the national call in the USA to prioritize healthcare workers for the N95 mask supply.
Early this year, the N95 mask could have been found at Home Depot in abundant quantities. However, beginning in April, Home Depot retargeted its N95 mask supply prioritizing healthcare providers and first responders. Home Depot executed a “Stop-Sale” of N95 mask supplies. This order has been in effect in all of the Home Depot stores.
Their online store HomeDepot.com also stopped offering any type of N95 mask. So, if you wanted to buy a surgical disposable face mask for virus protection, keep in mind that the antiviral N95 mask is no longer be available from this trusted retailer.
Furthermore, the Stop-Sale order also moved to redirect all N95 mask shipments. As soon as it was in effect, previous N95 mask orders were already canceled and rerouted for the healthcare industry. Home Depot donated N95 mask supplies to hospitals. The quick response of Home Depot came soon after hospitals sounded the alarm to the public that they were experiencing N95 mask shortages.
There are many uses and types of N95 masks available for healthcare workers. The N95 mask offers up to 95 percent of virus protection and is seen as the best to filter hazardous particles in dust, smoke, and air. The bulk of the N95 mask supply has been supplied to health workers. Some of the best types of N95 masks like the 3M 8511, 3M 8210, 1860 N95 mask, 3M N95 Masks, kn95 masks, are sold wholesale for hospital use.
Aside from the N95 mask, Home Depot also donated other personal protective equipment (PPE) like face shields to hospitals. From the execution of the Stop-Sale of N95 mask of Home Depot, the retailer has since prioritized the fulfillment of N95 mask orders for healthcare workers, first responders, and other hospital staff.
The real reason why Home Depot stopped selling the N95 mask
At the beginning of the year, Home Depot was the go-to option for needed items including the N95 mask. The N95 mask was seen on its shelves in most locations. But there has been a plea that touched the hearts of executives at Home Depot making them decide what to do with their N95 mask supply.
There is an ongoing shortage of the N95 mask in the country as COVID-19 cases increase. Those who are on the front lines of coronavirus response and treatment have had to make do without an N95 mask. This is surprising that healthcare workers do not have sufficient and proper access to the N95 mask.
Hospitals and front liners have voiced out their dire need for N95 mask saying that they had to reuse N95 mask for beyond its effective duration of 8 hours, going even up to 5 shifts or 60 hours with just one N95 mask.
What is more unfortunate is that some health workers had to use non-medical-grade masks, even bandanas just to have some sort of protection in the absence of an N95 mask.
President Donald Trump has already asked retailers like Home Depot and even construction companies to donate their N95 mask supply to hospitals fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Big companies that make an N95 mask, like 3M, have also been ordered to increase their manufacturing of the N95 mask.
It is appalling that there is an N95 mask shortage in the country. Apparently, the months of the shutdown and staying at home to reduce insurmountable pressure on the healthcare system was not enough time to sufficiently prepare for the current circumstances.
The massive demand for the COVID-19 pandemic is indeed alarming. The demand just seems to increase week by week and the country is struggling to keep up with the supply of N95 masks that is required by the healthcare system.
What Home Depot has been doing to combat the Coronavirus
Home Depot continues to be up and running even amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Their business is essential for homeowners and businesses in times of crisis and disasters. Yet, for the time being, Home Depot will not be able to sell the N95 mask to the general public.
Furthermore, the use of an N95 mask is not mandatory for the public. Health workers who are directly exposed to Covid-19 symptomatic and asymptomatic patients need this antiviral protection the most. Meanwhile, a reusable face mask may be used by families and kids to prevent catching the flu and other diseases caused by the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, here are some of the continuous efforts of Home Depot to keep safe during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Asking Employees to Check Temperature
One of the ways to combat COVID-19 is to be alert of any symptoms of the illness, including fever. As such, Home Depot made sure to implement health check and temperature monitoring for all of their employees. It is to ensure that all their employees as well as their customers will be safe from COVID-19.
However, it is important to note that Home Depot does not mandate its employees to undergo COVID-19 testing. While an employee of theirs tested positive, Home Depot did not make COVID-19 testing mandatory for all of their employees.
Instead, their staff is encouraged to monitor their own health and seek medical advice when experiencing symptoms. Those who feel ill are advised to stay home.
- Social Distancing
Home Depot also started to limit foot traffic in all of its stores. Their typical store is around 100,000 square feet. During the COVID-19 pandemic, only 100 customers at a time are allowed inside the store.
Furthermore, there are no markings on the floor, plexiglass shields at check-out and service areas, and signage to guide customers as well as Home Depot staff to always maintain social and physical distancing in all of their stores. Home Depot Staff also wear badges that remind customers to stay within 6 feet away from them at all times.
- Cancel Major Promotions
Black Friday, springtime sales and other promotional offers at the store that bring in a lot of customers have also ceased from the time being. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Home Depot will not have these sales.
Home Depot also cut the store times, closing stores early beginning mid-March. Home Depot made sure to give their staff ample time to sanitize their stores. In most locations, Home Depot closed to the public at 6 pm. During this time, restocking also takes place.
In case a Home Depot location has been alerted of a COVID-19 positive case, the store undergoes additional cleaning and sanitization. Such is the case that happened in their N. Belair Rd. the store which went through extensive disinfection after one of the employees there tested positive for the coronavirus.
- PPE for staff
In lieu of the N95 mask, Home Depot provides all of its staff with non-medical-grade face coverings. Their medical-grade N95 mask supply is distributed to hospitals during the pandemic. For the Home Depot staff, they are all required to wear masks or facial coverings in all their locations and facilities.
How Home Depot employees receive ample support during COVID-19 pandemic
Home Depot has been making sure that all of its employees are well-paid during the time of the pandemic. Home Depot employees are currently given paid time off from 40 to 80 hours depending on whether the employee is part-time or full-time with the company. The employee also gets up to 14 days of payment for employees who have been required by public health officials to undergo quarantine.
In addition, Home Depot also supports any employee who may have contracted coronavirus. They are given their pay until the patient is released by a doctor. It should be noted that a Home Depot employee in Augusta, GA tested positive for COVID-19. As such, this protocol of giving paid leave to an employee who tests positive was put in place.
Home Depot Initiatives to Help the Community during the COVID-19 pandemic
Price freeze has also been implemented in Home Depot stores during the pandemic. This applies to various product categories and is implemented in all stores of Home Depot nationwide.
The forefront retailer also makes sure to expedite sources of essential items that the community needs. Meanwhile, the N95 mask is the only needed item that Home Depot has a supply, but does not sell to the community. The N95 mask is for front liners during the emergency response of the coronavirus pandemic.
N95 Mask still a necessity for everyone
It is not just the coronavirus pandemic that is threatening the United States now. It is fire season in the country and yet the N95 mask continues to be difficult to obtain. Even in Home Depot, there is no N95 mask sold.
The N95 mask is seen as superior in protecting individuals against hazardous particles brought about by fires. Many people are looking for an N95 mask to buy especially during fire season. But there is no N95 mask stock among local retailers.
While the best recourse is to stay indoors upon seeing fire or smoke, where inevitable, a person may be exposed to hazardous air particles and would need an N95 mask. With the shortcomings of retail stores like Home Depot in the N95 mask supply, finding an N95 mask online is the next best option. For that, Clinical Supplies continues to offer multiple models of the N95 mask for sale to the general public in a time when they are needed the most.
How to stay protected without N95 mask
In times when it is difficult to obtain an N95 mask that offers up to 95 percent protection from the coronavirus, our best recourse is to stay home and save lives. In addition, healthcare professionals remind everyone to constantly practice correct hand-washing.
While the N95 mask can filter out hazardous particles in the air, and coronavirus is an airborne disease, people can still get the illness even with an N95 mask. What can happen is that an individual will come in contact with a contaminated surface and then touch their eyes or mouth. With this, even an N95 mask cannot protect you. So avoid touching your face, eyes, and mouth. It is also life-saving to always wash your hands.
Where soap and water are inaccessible, alcohol-based hand rub or sanitizer may be used to thoroughly clean the hands. Frequent cleaning of hands is a must to avoid the spreading of COVID-19. This is the responsibility of each individual. Doing so religiously will help fight the disease more quickly.
Further, there should be a cover for the mouth and nose especially when coughing or sneezing. You may blow on a disposable tissue or your elbow if you feel like coughing or sneezing. Any face covering can also help protect others. If you see someone with a fever or cough, avoid close contact.
One should also be aware of the signs and symptoms of COVID-19. These are respiratory symptoms which may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty breathing
- Dry cough
- Sore throat
- Loss of smell or taste
- Loss of speech
- Lethargy or extreme tiredness or loss of movement
- Aches or pains
- Chest pain
- Discoloration of toes or fingers
It is important to seek medical care from the onset of experiencing these signs and symptoms of COVID-19. However, instead of heading over to the emergency hospital, it is recommended to seek health advice via phone call first. This will not just protect you from contracting the disease in case of false alarms but will also protect others so they won’t be exposed to the illness, healthcare workers included.