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|Fauci Thanks US Health Workers For Sacrifices But Admits PPE Shortages Drove Up by Martinal: 2:26am On Apr 12, 2021|
Dr Anthony Fauci thanked America’s healthcare workers who “every single day put themselves at risk” during the pandemic, even as he acknowledged that PPE shortages had contributed to the deaths of more than 3,600 of them.
“We rightfully refer to these people without hyperbole – that they are true heroes and heroines,” he said in an exclusive interview with the Guardian. The deaths of so many health workers from Covid-19 are “a reflection of what healthcare workers have done historically, but putting themselves in harm’s way, by living up to the oath they take when they become physicians and nurses,” said Fauci.
The Guardian and Kaiser Health News have tracked healthcare workers deaths throughout the pandemic in the Lost on the Frontline database. More than 3,600 health worker deaths have been tallied in the database, which is considered the most authoritative accounting in the country.
Personal protective equipment – including gloves, gowns and critical masks – have been in short supply since the pandemic began and heightened the toll. The US is the world’s largest importer of PPE, which made it especially vulnerable to the demand shock and export restrictions that hit the global market last spring.
“During the critical times when there were shortages was when people had to use whatever was available to them,” said Fauci. “I’m sure that increased the risk of getting infected among healthcare providers.”
Shortages were compounded by the federal government’s failure to maintain a national stockpile of personal protective equipment, and the Trump administration’s refusal to order more domestic manufacturing of PPE. That left health workers to use trash bags as gowns, to reuse N95s for weeks, and at times go totally without gloves.
The shortages led to health worker protests, who said working amid the pandemic without equipment left them like “sheep going to slaughter”. Nina Forbes, a nurse at an assisted living facility, was forced to wear a trashbag at times, according to her daughter, and later died. A year into the pandemic, gowns and gloves remain in short supply, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
More than 555,000 Americans have died in the Covid-19 pandemic, with many more suffering the long-term symptoms of Covid-19.
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