As their supplies of masks and face shields have dwindled, infection control experts have had to turn protecting themselves from coronavirus into a Pinterest project, making replacements out of things they could buy at Home Depot and craft stores.
According to Bloomberg, workers in the 51 hospitals in the Providence St. Joseph Health system in Washington state have been trying to fashion face shields out of foam, elastic, industrial-strength tape, and marine-grade vinyl, and they're currently testing face masks that are made from the material that would normally be used to line surgical trays.
The situation in Washington isn't unique: Dozens and dozens of hospitals have reported either shortages or rapidly diminishing supplies of personal protection equipment. (The U.S. Centers for Disease Control [CDC] has repeatedly warned Americans not to stockpile masks and to leave the stock that is available for medical personnel, but those suggestions seem to have been met with a big shrug emoji.)
Bonnie Castillo, the executive director of National Nurses United, told CBS News that nurses have been asked to reuse their masks, even surgical masks which "provide no protection" from coronavirus. "And as more [healthcare workers] get sick and have exposure, we get sidelined, and then who's there to take care of the patients?" she said.
Fortunately for those real doctors, nurses, and others who are on the front lines in this worldwide fight, some fictional TV docs have stepped up to try to help. On Wednesday, members of the production team of FOX medical drama The Resident delivered the show's supply of masks, gowns, and gloves to Grady Hospital in Atlanta. (The Resident is filmed in Atlanta, although it has suspended production on future episodes.)
"Yesterday, I had a serious discussion with the residents about how, though supplies are low, a magical shipment of masks is unlikely to arrive. And yet, a magical shipment of masks DID arrive, in the form of this very generous gesture," Dr. Karen Law, the Program Director of the J. Willis Hurst Internal Medicine Residency Program at Emory University, posted on Instagram, along with a picture of the donation.
"This kind of community support means so much to our #frontlineproviders who are making many sacrifices to staff our hospitals and care for our community. Thank you, @theresidentonfox and @foxtv for being helpers. We needed this kind of good news today"
And Grey's Anatomy spinoff Station 19 has donated some of its N95 masks to the Ontario Fire Department in Ontario, California. "Thank you to @station19 and [producer Shonda Rhimes] for the donation of N95 masks to help protect our firefighters during our COVID-19 response," the department wrote on Facebook, adding the hashtag #HeroesNotJustOnTV.
Entertainment Weekly reports that ABC's The Good Doctor has also planned to donate its protective gear to medical personnel in Vancouver.
Not gonna lie, now I feel kind of bad about not watching any of these shows—but what better time to catch up than during the upcoming weeks (!!!) of self-isolation?