THURSDAY, March 19, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Shortages of face masks for health care workers, swabs, and other supplies are hampering efforts to increase COVID-19 testing in the United States.
Testing is crucial to identifying the spread of COVID-19, but these shortages are affecting the ability of health care workers to collect samples and for laboratories to analyze the samples, The Washington Post reported. The face mask shortage prompted the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to suggest the use of bandannas, if necessary.
"In settings where face masks are not available, [health-care providers] might use homemade masks (e.g., bandana, scarf) for care of patients with COVID-19 as a last resort," the CDC said this week, The Post reported. "Caution should be exercised when considering this option."
In response to mask shortages, some hospitals in Seattle and Washington, D.C., are asking doctors and patients to reuse masks instead of disposing of them as CDC protocol typically requires, even after contact with infected patients. Staff at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago have started using washable lab goggles for eye protection, rather than throwing away face shields, The Post reported.