Mask makers struggle to stay in business despite delta variant spread

Though the delta variant is causing a rise in COVID-19 cases, demand for masks remains low, and some domestic mask makers are struggling to stay in business, Bloomberg reported July 27. 

About 5,000 workers at mask manufacturers have been laid off as demand for masks falls amid vaccinations and a lack of mask mandates, according to Bloomberg. Several companies have stopped making masks because of a lack of sales. 

The issue facing mask manufacturers is part of the country's larger issue of building up a reliable domestic supply chain for personal protective equipment ahead of another public health crisis, according to Bloomberg

The U.S. is "one problem away from being back where we were last spring," Megan Ranney, MD, co-founder of Get Us PPE, an organization that provides free PPE to communities in need, told Bloomberg

PPE manufacturers will likely need committed purchasing contracts from both the federal government and hospitals to create a sustainable supply chain, Soumi Saha, PharmD, vice president for advocacy at hospital supply purchasing group Premier, told Bloomberg

Hospitals are often hesitant to switch from overseas mask makers because domestically made masks typically cost about 30 percent more, Dr. Saha told Bloomberg.

Some experts told Bloomberg the federal government could require hospitals to buy a certain percentage of their PPE from domestic companies, or Medicare and Medicaid could give health facilities bonus payments if they make domestic purchases. 

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