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As Covid Cases Mount, Direct Relief Equips Health Care Workers Across the U.S.

A health worker dons PPE before entering a patient room in a Maryland hospital. As Covid-19 case counts surge in the U.S., shipments of PPE continue to depart for health facilities across the country. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
A health worker dons PPE before entering a patient room in a Maryland hospital. As Covid-19 case counts surge in the U.S., shipments of PPE continue to depart for health facilities across the country. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

As the coronavirus besieges communities across the United States, Direct Relief is targeting assistance to health care workers in the nation’s hardest-hit regions.

The United States has surpassed 250,000 deaths due to Covid-19 and recorded 1 million new cases in the last week alone – representing an average daily growth rate nearly 75% higher than just two weeks ago.

In an effort to stymie the spread of the virus at bars and other nightlife venues, several states and cities have implemented curfews, including California, Ohio and New York City. As hospitalizations continue to peak in the Midwest, a handful of governors are mandating residents to wear face masks for the first time. The CDC has urged Americans to avoid traveling ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Direct Relief’s Response

Direct Relief continues to fulfill requests for critically needed supplies from health facilities in the throes of the pandemic’s third wave.

This week, the organization sent 478 shipments of medical aid to hospitals and safety-net providers treating patients and administering supportive care. The aid – valued at more than $4 million – included N-95 masks, ventilators, ICU medications, thermometers and pulse oximeters.

Shipments bound for health facilities across the United States are prepped for departure on Nov. 16, 2020, from Direct Relief's warehouse. The country is experiencing a third wave of Covid-19 cases, and the organization is ramping up shipment capacity to address increased requests. (Lara Cooper/Direct Relief)
Shipments bound for health facilities across the United States are prepped for departure on Nov. 16, 2020, from Direct Relief’s warehouse. The country is experiencing a third wave of Covid-19 cases, and the organization is ramping up shipment capacity to address increased requests. (Lara Cooper/Direct Relief)

In addition, a shipment of PPE and critical care medications – valued at more than $50,000 – is set to depart the warehouse for inpatient and outpatient facilities in Montana where hospitalizations peaked this month.

Since November 1, Direct Relief has sent more than 1.2 million N-95 respirators and surgical masks to U.S. health facilities, in addition to thousands of gowns, face shields and other personal protective equipment.

On the Ground

Health care organizations report fatigue and staff shortages as the virus spreads throughout the country.

At one health center in Bozeman, Montana, Covid positivity rates have been high across all five of their clinic sites, which have been providing testing to low-income patients in both rural and urban communities. Due to widespread transmission, the health center is experiencing staff shortages as workers become ill with the virus. “Everyone is worn out,” said a health center representative. Direct Relief has been supplying the facility with protective equipment, which the representative credited for helping them maintain their stock of PPE throughout the pandemic.

In Cheyenne, Wyoming, another health center is also experiencing staff shortages because of the virus. Last week, four staff members were out of the office due to possible exposure. And as businesses close, including daycares and schools, some staff members are staying home to take care of children. “We are a small staff, so having clinical staff members out puts a strain on our staff,” said a representative at the health center.

One hospital in Idaho reports nearing capacity as PPE supplies dwindle. Due to limited resources, the rural hospital has been transporting patients up to 6 hours to regional hospitals throughout the state.

A Proactive Response

Since the pandemic’s beginning earlier this year, Direct Relief has sent more than 24,000 shipments containing more than 43 million masks, 7 million gloves, and millions of other PPE items to more than 1,900 health facilities around the world. The organization has also provided more than $36 million in emergency operating grants.

As the pandemic enters its third wave, Direct Relief is in communication with health facilities facing unprecedented surges in cases and hospitalizations. The organization will continue to fulfill requests for critically needed medical supplies and bolster health facilities through targeted infusions of funding and resources.

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