ABC News: How US Hospitals are preparing for novel coronavirus
By Eden David
As the number of novel coronavirus cases continues to grow, doctors on the front lines are describing how they are preparing. Hospitals are mobilizing resources and modifying protocols as new information about the virus emerges.
The protocols for COVID-19 are modified preparedness plans, designed for previous pandemics. "We are utilizing or modifying plans that have been in place for pandemic influenza and SARS. We are prioritizing the travel questions but this is not much different than we were doing during the Ebola outbreaks,” said Dr. David Cennimo, Assistant Professor of Medicine-Pediatrics Infectious Disease at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.
Across the U.S., hospitals are also modifying screening and triage protocols to detect COVID-19 patients as early as possible. Dr. Mark Jarrett, the chief quality officer for Northwell Health says that across all 23 sites they are "working on screening, triage and identification so that any places of entry are included and addressed.”
The CDC currently does not recommend any healthy person wear face masks. There are two types of masks. According to the CDC, surgical masks are more loose fitting, fluid resistant, and provide the wearer protection against larger droplet. They should be worn by people who are sick with a respiratory virus in order to prevent the spread of their own germs. N95 masks or respirators, are more tight fitting, can protect against smaller particles, and must be especially adjusted for the user. N95 respirators should only be used by healthcare workers in clinical settings. Nevertheless, many among the general healthy public still continue to hoard and misuse masks.
“We should expect shortages of supply possibly by early March and we should start planning for that. Though these companies have factories outside of Asia, we don’t know when they will start production,” said Dr. Robyn Livingston, an infectious disease doctor at Children’s Mercy Kansas City. "I can say we have to be cautiously optimistic but prepare for the worst."
States and hospitals are working together to ensure that healthcare workers’ protection is not compromised.
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