Viral Masks in Short Supply during a Pandemic
Respirators and surgical masks for infection control have been strongly suggested and even temporarily made mandatory in some places by the Chinese government, but no U.S. authority has done the same. This hasn’t stopped people from buying up N95 masks from all over the United States. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends these actions as the most helpful:
- Wash your hands often, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
- Stay home as much as possible
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
State health departments are recommending that hospitals keep an emergency cache of respirators, but only enough for very short periods. In a serious pandemic, the U.S. is not prepared to be isolated for long.