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Medical gear being rationed on front lines of coronavirus fight

Coronavirus

Conn. (WTNH) — Hospital workers across the state say they feel unsafe an want to make sure their employers have the equipment to keep them healthy during the coronavirus pandemic.

The fire chief in East Haven says they’re running low on personal protective equipment. Things like masks, coveralls, isolation robes, and eye protection.

He says the state has more than 100,000 masks in storage but red tape is keeping them from getting out.

He says he would rather have expired masks than none at all.

Some healthcare workers sounding the alarm to News 8 Wednesday, reporting gear is already being rationed.

The plea for supplies was front and center in the governor’s press conference. Governor Ned Lamont called on federal leaders to make hospital gear available. Also now asking nonessential medical clinics and dentists offices to donate their equipment to those with more need.

Supplies are being restricted. We’re trying to find out if they are truly shorthanded or if they’re just being restricted for fear of being shorthanded.

– John Brady , R.N. / AFT CT VP

AFT Union Vice President John Brady represents 10,000 nurses and healthcare workers across the state. He says his members report access to N-95 face shields have been especially restricted. Though, more are expected any day now from the national strategic stockpile.

This comes as the New England Journal of Medicine reports COVID-19 can stay airborne for up to three hours.

The CDC no longer recommends healthcare workers use N-95 face masks. A bad call according to State Senator and lung doctor, Saud Anwar.

Dr. Anwar says the state is working to stockpile as much equipment as it can before a possible exponential increase in patients.

Hospital officials at Middlesex Health tell News 8, despite the roll out of drive-thru swabbing sites, some hospitals are forced to ration their swab kits because they don’t have enough.

That has led to limits on the patients who qualify to get tested.

The federal government is supposed to provide us with the resources whether it is going to be ventilators, protective equipment, testing, all of those parts are where we’re having struggles.

– John Brady , R.N. / AFT CT VP

Dr. Anwar says the state is forging ahead with a two-pronged approach: first, slow the spread with the broad social distancing measures, next – by increasing the capacity to care for those who get sick – protect the front-line workers by getting them the right gear.

Anwar and Brady both say they also want to see all elective surgeries stopped for the time being.

We should stop them because we need to have those beds available for the very sick patients who are anticipated or who have already started coming

– State Senator and lung doctor, Saud Anwar.

The information is not clear because it’s such a new virus. We don’t know what the right information is and that leads to heightened anxiety.

– John Brady , R.N. / AFT CT VP

As for the masks, Senator Anwar says the national stockpile shipment will help initially, but not for the long-term.

There are conflicting reports whether three hospitals are already full to capacity: Danbury, Greenwich and Bridgeport.

Spokespersons for the hospitals tell News 8 they are still accepting new patients and working hard to expand capacity in case of a surge.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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