CLEVELAND — Health care workers, like all workers, have a proper to a healthy working setting. Prior to COVID-19 getting into the United States, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tips included using N95 face masks and face shields as the optimum private protective gear (PPE) for health care workers. In the wake of shortages of PPE, the CDC updated its guidelines to incorporate using selfmade masks (bandana, scarfs) as a last resort, albeit with out classifying such measures as PPE.
Health care workers are not martyrs. These new tips, nevertheless, ask health care workers to forgo their very own security, the security of their family members, and the security of their sufferers within the event of a scarcity.
Why should those that are on the entrance strains of preventing this disaster be put ahead as tribute at the whims of a provide chain disaster of the United States’ own making? The United States solely lately released part of its own stockpile, however these stockpiles are filled with expired face masks which have a failure price of between 0.16 % and 10.3 %, in accordance with preliminary exams.
The United States has laws which shield protected workplaces beneath the Occupational Safety and Health Act beneath the “general duty clause,” where employers must create a protected office. Any health care worker who’s pressured to work with out correct PPE might file a lawsuit towards their office as a violation of the 1970 regulation, and that is exactly what the American Academy of Emergency Medicine ought to do, particularly if corporations threaten to terminate staff who deliver their own PPE.
Health care workers are dying from COVID-19 and make up 20 percent of the present confirmed Ohio infections. They are not resistant to its effects and will not be left to fend for themselves in the workplace.
Recently on CBS This Morning, Dr. David Agus made the declare that, “In a sense, we could create a cohort of workers across the country to be ambulance drivers, the checkouts at the grocery stores, working in the emergency rooms, who won’t get sick if they are exposed again to the virus.”
This is false and a dangerous narrative. Individual immunity to COVID-19 does not put a pressure area around people; it simply signifies that your immune system is best capable of battle COVID-19 on account of one thing referred to as “secondary immunity.” Health care workers who have had COVID-19 can nonetheless be carriers of the virus to patients. In reality, there was a subset of patients who specialists aren’t positive are being reinfected with extreme disease or have had a resurgence of the illness submit-recovery.
This line of considering, that recovery equals a drive area, is worrisome. Would the subsequent thing be that the CDC would permit for little to no PPE for recovered people in an effort to maximize supply? This can be hazardous for each health care workers and patients, and yet one more violation of workers’ rights.
We have to cease decreasing our requirements, and moderately growing our capacity to supply PPE. Companies like 3M are ramping up manufacturing, and we should always see different factories altering their production line to satisfy demand.
This is struggle. We must use wartime methods. As a virologist, our lab is already receiving inquires from surrounding hospital methods for our reagents to run the check kits. There merely is not sufficient. The corporations which provide these check kits have to both ramp up their own supply chain or share their proprietary components for mass production. Now is not the time to maximize income.
We must recognize the humanity of our health care workers. We must all collectively battle for the security and rights of health care workers all over the place, collectively.
Marie McCausland is a molecular virologist, immunologist, and health advocate working as a postdoctoral fellow at Case Western Reserve University. The views expressed are her own.
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