Eldad U Einav MD – Cardiology | Ascension Medical Group, Binghamton, NY
“The epidemic is overwhelming the healthcare system, and clinicians are essential regardless of specialty.”
By Eldad Einav, MD
March 29, 2020
Medscape – Last Saturday, my local hospital reached a sad milestone: We had our first COVID-19 death.
I am a staff cardiologist at the hospital in Binghamton, New York, and like hospitals everywhere, we have been anticipating a surge in patients.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is in short supply and is being rationed. We are encouraged to reuse disposable equipment multiple times, and access to surgical masks is limited.
The epidemic is overwhelming the healthcare system, and clinicians are essential regardless of specialty.
As I considered my own high risk for exposure, I reviewed existing protective measures that could keep me from contracting the virus and further transmitting it to my coworkers, family, and especially to my elderly father who resides with me.
“STOP BUYING MASKS!”
I was concerned to see that most healthcare workers (HCWs) and patients are still roaming the hospital floors and the emergency department without wearing masks. Hospitals are citing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) restricting mask use mostly to close encounters with symptomatic individuals or confirmed cases with COVID-19.
I decided to research the evidence and justification behind official prevention guidelines. My findings were rather striking.
It is widely agreed that face masks (even surgical masks and non-fit-tested respirators) are an effective barrier against COVID-19, as its primary mode of transmission is through respiratory droplets. Contrary to common belief, however, respiratory droplets are released not only when sneezing or coughing, but also when talking.
Still, the CDC strongly discourages mask use in the community or by healthcare workers when not directly exposed to a symptomatic individual. The message from authorities is clear: Among asymptomatic individuals, masks are not effective against the spread of COVID-19. In fact, facing a nationwide shortage of masks, the surgeon general tweeted, “STOP BUYING MASKS!” Read more.