Largest PPE Shortage Since the Start of the Pandemic: Challenges & Solutions

Personal Protection Equipment Shortages and Raised Prices 

Shortages in personal protection equipment (PPE) is becoming an issue across the United States. Hospitals in the country are facing severe shortages of masks for their staff and patients. The PPE shortage is becoming more dire as states begin to lift mask mandates – cases are likely to spike again due to the relaxed precautions. According to an article by The Hill, the “usage of supplies for COVID-19 testing and treatment has reached the highest rate seen since the pandemic began last year.”  

PPE shortages have been an issue in the United States since March 2020. Some shortages were caused by panic buying, while some of the deficiencies are now being caused by manufacturing issues and increased tariffs, making it harder to get PPE to the US. 

Some tariff exemptions are ending on March 31st, 2021. The expiration of these tariff exemptions will likely lead to an increase in the cost of masks. In December 2020 and January 2021, the price of masks increased by 1,300%, while the cost of nitrile gloves increased by 600%.  

Although the vaccine efforts for COVID-19 are underway it is still important for people to protect themselves by wearing masks and other PPE equipment. With the demand for PPE at its peak since last year, the start of the pandemic, and the increase in prices and tariffs, even higher demand can be expected to come from these issues. 

Solutions to the Problems 

By using artificial intelligence (AI), some hospitals can work through the PPE shortages issue. While increased pricing continues to be an issue for most PPE distributors, hospitals can utilize AI to work through over-purchasing and supply-chain issues for their PPE. 

Currently, large hospital systems seek out more data and technology companies to help hospitals in the PPE shortage crisis. Planning plays a huge role in the ability to provide and stock PPE materials. 

C & A Scientific is working to improve the health and minds of people worldwide. In doing this, C & A has dedicated much time to ensuring their customers have fair pricing and easily accessible PPE products throughout the pandemic. Current research and data suggest that the use of PPE could continue into the next several years as people continue to build immunity to the disease.

Unsafe Supplies 

To add to the shortage and price gouging of PPE, some PPE suppliers are selling counterfeit products. Recently the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been warning people of fake PPE, mainly N95 masks. More than 11 million counterfeit N95 masks have been seized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the last few weeks.  

The demand for masks, especially the N95 masks, is incredibly high. N95 masks filter out 95% of airborne particles by creating a better seal on your face. The CDC has listed guidelines on their website how to identify fake N95 masks. They have also included a list of brand names that NIOSH’s approval, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. 

C & A Scientific offers products that are safe, certified, in-stock and priced reasonably. In order to become certified, KN95 masks are required to have a special mask fit test on real humans to ensure there is less than an eight percent leakage on the masks; the N95 masks do not require this special test. Overall, KN95 and N95 masks are both rated to capture 95% of particles. 

Need for Testing 

To keep data relevant, we need to continue routine COVID-19 testing. As people begin to go back to in-person activities or plans for this fall, keeping everyone safe and informed is also in development. 

Schools in Minnesota are developing a rotating testing schedule, which requires students and their families to get a COVID-19 test bi-weekly. If other states adopt this method, we may see an increase in the need for swabs and an increase in complete data. Increased testing and data help leaders make informed decisions on COVID-19.  

C & A Scientific has worked to create an extensive line of swabs for all needs. Swabs are just another PPE item that C & A has been actively supplying to their customers. In working to secure a healthy public, C & A is dedicated to improving and producing products for all needs. Download a copy of the PPE catalog to see our full list of certified products.  

C & A Scientific is a dedicated leader in improving the health and minds of people worldwide. We supply over 700 award-winning medical and STEM-inspired products to distributors and retailers looking for sensational customer service. Learn more about us and our story here. 

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