COVID-19 PPE Shortages

#GetMePPE COVID-19 Advocacy

SHEA is calling on President Trump to use the full authority afforded under the Defense Production Act (DPA) to expand domestic production capacity of urgently needed personal protective equipment.

If you have any questions about this advocacy initiative, please send an email to

The Problem – Shortages and unpredictable supplies of PPE
Domestic and global demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) in healthcare facilities has surged since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, healthcare workers throughout the country have reported dire shortages of PPE, putting patients and frontline healthcare workers at risk of contracting or transmitting COVID-19 while care is being provided. When healthcare facilities are uncertain whether they will have enough PPE supplies to treat patients and protect healthcare workers, facilities are forced to implement austere policies for PPE distribution and utilization. Under these conditions, healthcare facilities are forced to fall back on crisis standards of care such as reusing PPE intended only for single-use or using PPE not intended for medical use.

While manufacturers and distributors are maximizing available resources and efforts to get much-needed PPE to all healthcare facilities, the lack of capacity to support the surge of demand has resulted in persistent systemic shortages, reuse of disposable PPE, and the inability to predict when replenishments will be received.  Since the onset of the pandemic, the lack of capacity is persistent and crisis standards of care are being normalized in healthcare facilities, even in those not actively involved in managing a surge of COVID-19 cases. Failure to provide adequate and predicable supplies in PPE puts healthcare workers and patients at higher risk of not just COVID-19, but any transmissible infection.

The Impact – Lack of PPE puts healthcare workers and patients at risk
Healthcare epidemiologists and infection preventionists responsible for developing and implementing protocols and training programs designed to prevent infections from occurring wherever healthcare is delivered are confronting chronic shortages and unpredictability of essential PPE supplies. The following is a list of PPE and materials for which shortages and unpredictable supplies are persistent:

  • N95 respirators
  • Surgical masks
  • Gowns
  • Gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer

Medical professionals’ time meant for preparing and responding to surge demand and patient care is reallocated to navigating breakdowns in the PPE supply chain, altering and re-altering policy around PPE use, retraining healthcare personnel in increasing tiers of crisis standard utilization all while hospitals handle fluctuating numbers of COVID-19 cases. Uncertainty persists with no promise of predictable supplies of PPE on the horizon.

The Solution – The Defense Production Act
It is imperative that PPE for healthcare workers is prioritized within the domestic supply chain during the pandemic and for a period beyond while screening for and treating COVID-19 cases is the standard of practice in every healthcare facility.  Having access to adequate and sustainable supplies of PPE is necessary for the delivery of all healthcare services, not just treating COVID-19 cases. SHEA’s mission is to prevent the transmission of preventable infections in all healthcare settings, of which PPE is a critical element for treating patients while mitigating transmission of infections.

SHEA is calling on President Trump to use the full authority afforded under the Defense Production Act (DPA) to expand domestic production capacity of urgently needed PPE. The DPA enables the administration to require private businesses to prioritize government contracts and to manufacture critical materials and goods to effectively respond during a national emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic. This critical action is necessary for healthcare professionals to remain effective in their ability to prevent, detect and mitigate transmission of COVID-19. Meeting the demand for PPE is an immediate problem that requires a longer-term and sustainable solution like the DPA.

Take Action – #GetMePPE
SHEA is calling on all healthcare workers to contact their state and federal representatives to urge President Trump to use his authority under the DPA to expand domestic capacity for PPE production. Healthcare workers need a predictable, sustainable supply chain to deliver PPE throughout the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.


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