Montgomery – Some states and cities in the United States where masks, gloves, respirators, and other essential equipment were sent from the nation’s medical reserves to fight the coronavirus took an unpleasant surprise: the material is useless.
Nearly 6,000 medical masks shipped to Alabama had fungal rot and their expiration date was 2010. More than 150 respirators shipped to Los Angeles were broken and had to be repaired. Masks with defective elastics that could break came to Oregon, exposing medical workers to the disease.
“Several of the shipments we have received from the national strategic reserve contained (expiration date) that expired long ago and, although we are being told that much of the equipment that has already expired can be used for the COVID response -19, would not be suitable for use in surgical settings, “said Charles Boyle, spokesman for Oregon Governor Kate Brown, in an email.RELATED
Part of the equipment was purchased during the H1N1 virus outbreak more than a decade ago, he noted, adding that facemasks with the brittle elastic were among the products previously recalled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, for its acronym in English). The state did not distribute them to medical workers.
The shortage of protective equipment has put doctors, nurses and other medical workers working on the front line at risk. Respirators, which can make the difference between life and death, have been in short supply as more and more states experience outbreaks of the disease caused by the virus, COVID-19. Although it normally causes moderate symptoms, it can be especially dangerous for older adults and people with pre-existing conditions. Many young adults and medical workers have also succumbed to it.
Many governments have complained of delays in receiving equipment from the Strategic National Reserve, or of receiving much smaller amounts than requested. That frustration increases when the material arrives, but it is unusable.
Dr. Don Williamson, president of the Alabama Hospital Association and who was previously the top public health official in the state, said he received multiple emails from hospitals about the N95 masks shipped, in which the rubber leagues that the They keep well attached to the user’s face were rotten by fungus. They could not be used unless the elastics were replaced.
Montgomery County received nearly 6,000 medical masks of a different type that also had fungal rot, a shipment that was replaced approximately a week later.
“It is really concerning because those masks are desperately needed,” said Senator Doug Jones. “When our national reserves are not monitored enough and are not replenished, it is a real problem.”
Senator Cory Gardner called for an investigation Friday into the management of the supply and distribution of respirators in the national reserve. Among other things, he mentioned reports that maintenance failures contributed to the lack of operating machines “at a time when our country desperately needs them.”
Los Angeles received about 170 respirators from the national reserve that were in poor condition. Governor Gavin Newsom said they were sent to a company for repair.
In New Hampshire, the legislative delegation wrote to the Department of Health and Human Services to report that many of the supplies received had already expired. Furthermore, more than 16,000 latex gloves could not be used in a medical setting due to allergies to that material.
The CDC recognized late last month that some items in the federal reserve had passed the manufacturer’s expiration date. However, they were still being sent to hospitals “due to the potential urgent demand caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency,” they noted.