Northeast Florida has received thousands of PPE for health care workers. Is it enough?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Northeast Florida has received at least 400,000 pieces of personal protective equipment, including masks, gloves, and safety glasses from the state, but it’s still unclear if it’s enough to protect healthcare workers at the peak of COVID-19 in Florida.

City records show as of April 7, at least 10,480 N-95 masks were split up and delivered to six hospitals in Northeast Florida. N-95 masks are used to protect the wearer from airborne particles and from liquid contaminating the face, according to the FDA.

Records shows another 38,000 N-95 masks were distributed to assisted living facilities and nursing homes in Northeast Florida.

In comparison, the Jacksonville Chinese Association donated more than 37,000 pieces of PPE to Baptist Health in Jacksonville, including 23,000 N95 masks and 14,000 gloves.

Since the latest available count on April 7, Jared Moskowitz, the head of Florida’s Emergency Management Division, said the state has run its “largest logistics mission in state history," delivering more than 2 million masks and 100,000 gowns to hospitals.

“We’ll push even more masks out hopefully over a very short period of time,” said Florida Gov. Ron Desantis. “The PPE is very important for the health care workers, and it’s been a big priority for us here in the state of Florida.”

At the heart of the search for personal protective equipment are healthcare workers who under CDC guidance are already re-using protective face masks.

CDC advised health care workers to implement a limited reuse of face maska, with the exception of masks that are soiled, damaged or hard to breath through.

The CDC is also advising face masks be carefully folded and store between uses in clean, sealable paper bags or a breathable container.

Finding personal protective equipment has not been easy for states. In an interview with Fox News, Moskowitz chastised U.S. mask manufacturer 3M for allegedly shipping critical protective equipment to foreign countries who outbid US buyers.

“I want to thank, actually, the private vendors who actually have come through on the quotes and the orders that we’ve made and have delivered these goods to our warehouse in Orlando," Moskowitz said on Friday at a testing center in Jacksonville. "As soon as they come in. They go out the door.”

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