Gov. Newsom clashes with California hospital association over state's mask supply

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and the CEO of the state's hospital association disagree on why hospitals in the state are still facing a shortage of masks, CalMatters reported. 

Mr. Newsom has said the shortage is caused by hospitals not adequately distributing masks to workers. But Carmela Coyle, CEO of the California Hospital Association, said the issue is with the state's supply chain. 

"We need to see more distribution of N95 masks to our front-line workers. Some are getting two or three for a week. … That's unacceptable," Mr. Newsom said during a news conference, according to CalMatters

He said the state is buying an additional 420 million masks for $315.6 million, including 120 million N95 masks and 300 million surgical masks, with most set to go to the state's stockpile. 

Ms. Coyle said the issue is not that hospitals aren't properly distributing masks to their workers, but that they're going through their supply of masks quickly even when reserving N95 masks for only employees that work with COVID-19 patients, CalMatters reported. She added that not all hospitals get access to the state's stockpile.

"Things have improved since March and April, but that supply chain remains spotty," she said.

Nurses in California hospitals are still reusing masks and looking for ways to decontaminate them, CalMatters reported. The state's nurses association has asked the state for more transparency into which hospitals are getting masks from the state's stockpile. 

California has sent 17 million masks to other states, according to Mr. Newsom, who said California has plenty to share. 

"Arizona was … very desperate a few months ago. It would have been wrong for me to sit on 100 million masks here in the state of California, and not help American citizens in real need. I wouldn't have been able to sleep well at night," he said, according to CalMatters

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