Multiple health care workers on Thursday debunked a statement from a White House adviser that the media is overstating the need for personal protective equipment in hospitals amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Their comments come after White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told CNN earlier Thursday the media should “not sensationalize this crisis” when asked about shortages in personal protective equipment.
“So please, as you report this crisis, please keep in mind the extent that that is done makes our job here harder,” Navarro told CNN’s Brianna Keilar. “And it makes the health care professional job harder.”
Yet health care professionals repeatedly refuted those comments, stressing the dire need for personal protective equipment for front-line medical staff as the outbreak spreads.
Speaking to CNN’s Jake Tapper later Thursday, Dr. Lisa Dabby, an emergency medicine physician, said, “We appreciate the media’s support.”
“There really needs to be a push right now for production of PPE. We really need to keep our health care workers, our front line, safe and healthy,” she said. “People need to realize when they get sick they’re going to want somebody to take care of them.”
“People need know what’s happening behind the scenes,” she added.
Those comments were echoed by Dr. James Phillips, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at George Washington University and CNN medical analyst, who told Tapper there’s “a very significant need across the country” for personal protective equipment.
“It’s important for the American public to understand, and for the folks in politics to understand as well that we are already receiving guidance from the CDC on how to reuse our PPE. That is a deviation from the standard of care. Normally in what we would call conventional care, we would wear a different mask for every single patient,” he said.
“But we’re already being asked to use those for multiple patients if not multiple days. That is a significant deviation from the standard. If we had enough equipment, we would wear one mask per patient as it has been recommended for decades.”
Phillips added: “So the idea that we have enough PPE across the country is just not true.”
Their comments come as the US now has the highest number of known cases of coronavirus in the world, with more than 82,000, according to CNN’s tally of cases reported by health officials.
The grim milestone comes just as US officials reported a new high for fatalities reported in a single day. At least 237 deaths were reported Thursday, bringing the total number of deaths nationwide to at least 1,195.
The spike of cases has hospitals around the country scrambling to keep up with the demand for care.
CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said Thursday that while some hospitals have enough equipment “for the next few days,” many hospital systems around the country “went through their entire season’s supply of this stuff in a few days.”
“Once you start losing health care workers, that’s what’s really going to make a significant negative effect on mortality in this country,” Gupta said. “But also, they’re the ones doing the work. They’re the ones actually taking care of patients. It’s amazing.”