Some states and cities that have been shipped masks, gloves, ventilators and other essential equipment from the nation’s medical stockpile to fight the coronavirus have gotten an unwelcome surprise: the material is unusable.
Nearly 6,000 medical masks sent to Alabama had dry rot and a 2010 expiration date. More than 150 ventilators sent to Los Angeles were broken and had to be repaired. In Oregon, it was masks with faulty elastic that could cause the straps to snap, exposing medical workers to the disease.
“Several of the shipments we have received from the strategic national stockpile contained (personal protective equipment) well past expiration dates and, while we are being told much of the expired equipment is capable of being used for COVID-19 response, they would not be suitable for use in surgical settings,” Charles Boyle, a spokesman for Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, said in an email.
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He said some of the equipment had been purchased during the H1N1 outbreak more than a decade ago and that the masks with the fragile elastic had been among products previously recalled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The state did not distribute them to medical workers.
A shortage of protective gear has imperiled doctors, nurses and other front-line medical workers. Life-saving ventilators have been in short supply as more and more states experience outbreaks of the COVID-19 disease,