The Biden administration has taken the first step toward ending an emergency exception that allowed hospitals to ration and reuse N95 medical masks, the first line of defense between frontline workers and the deadly coronavirus.
Thousands of medical providers have died in the COVID-19 pandemic, many exposed and infected while caring for patients without adequate protection.
Critical shortages of masks, gowns, swabs, and other medical supplies prompted the Trump administration to issue guidelines for providers to ration, clean, and reuse disposable equipment. Thus, throughout the pandemic, once a week many doctors and nurses were issued an N95 mask, which is normally designed to be tossed after each patient.
Now U.S. manufacturers say they have vast surpluses for sale, and hospitals say they have three to 12 month stockpiles.