When face mask supplies are limited or depleted: CDC recommendations

The CDC has released a set of strategies to maximize the use of face masks when supply is scarce or unavailable.

The agency recommends these strategies for face mask shortages:

1. Selectively cancel elective and nonurgent procedures for which healthcare professionals would usually wear a face mask.

2. Remove face masks for visitors in public areas.

3. Allow healthcare workers to use the same face mask for multiple patient encounters without removing the mask between encounters.

4. Only allow healthcare professionals to use face masks, asking patients with symptoms of respiratory infection to use tissues or other face coverings.

The agency recommends these strategies for face mask shortages during crises:

1. Cancel all elective and non-urgent procedures for which healthcare professionals would usually wear a face mask.

2. Allow healthcare workers to use face masks beyond the shelf life designated by manufacturers.

3. Allow healthcare workers to use the same facemask for multiple patient encounters, but ask them to remove the mask in between each encounter.

4. Prioritize face mask use for selected activities, including during essential surgeries and procedures and during patient care activities where splashes and sprays are anticipated.

The agency recommends these strategies when no face masks are available:

1. Allow use of a face shield that covers the entire front and sides of the face.

2. Allow use of homemade masks.

3. Keep healthcare workers at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 from direct contact with known or suspected COVID-19 patients.

4. If possible, designate healthcare workers who have clinically recovered from COVID-19 to provide care for patients with COVID-19.

5. Consider use of ventilated headboards that draws exhaled air from a patient in bed into a high-efficiency particulate air filter.

6. Consider use of portable fan devices with high-efficiency particulate air filtration that can help deliver clean air to patient rooms.

More articles on supply chain:
FEMA, HHS create supply chain task force
New coronavirus shortages: Thermometers, oxygen, ventilator therapists
Prisma Health creates device for ventilator-sharing: 4 things to know

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