With 8 COVID-19 patients, Memorial Sloan Kettering has a week's supply of face masks

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City had eight cases of COVID-19 and just a week's supply of face masks as of March 13, Buzzfeed News reported. 

The shortage is due to production and distribution delays in China, Kreg Kolford, senior vice president of supply chain and sustaining care said in a message to staff seen by Buzzfeed News

Memorial Sloan Kettering is the country's oldest and largest private cancer center, and cancer patients are at particular risk for COVID-19 because of their compromised immune systems. Preliminary data suggest cancer patients have a 5.6 percent fatality rate if they contract COVID-19, compared to 0.9 percent for those without compromised immune systems, according to Buzzfeed News

The hospital confirmed that at least five employees and three patients have been diagnosed with COVID-19, though hospital administrators told staff that the hospital doesn't have the capacity to test all employees for the virus, even if they've come in contact with someone who has been diagnosed, according to Buzzfeed News.  

A hospital spokesperson told Buzzfeed News that officials are working to find sufficient supplies from other sources and emphasized that not all of the COVID-19 cases at the hospital were due to exposure while at the hospital, some were the result of community exposure. 

In a separate note to staff obtained by Buzzfeed News, some physicians were asked to make lists of priority patients to treat and to assess the risks and benefits of bringing in new patients with fragile immune systems for treatment due to the risk of exposure and shortages of equipment. 

A spokesperson for Memorial Sloan Kettering told Becker's Hospital Review: "Memorial Sloan Kettering has sufficient supply of [personal protective equipment], including masks and other equipment, to ensure the safety and protection of our patients and staff. MSK follows the guidelines for PPE that are established by the CDC."

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