China Hoards Masks As CDC Urges Public Wearing

The latest in COVID-19

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China Hoards Masks As CDC Urges Public Wearing

Quick Take

  • New CDC guidelines urge Americans to wear face coverings in public.
  • 3M pushes back against a government order to prioritize U.S. orders.
  • California National Guard constructs a field hospital in Shasta County.
  • Google data shows New Yorkers are doing less social distancing than residents of hard-hit Spain and Italy. 

Global cases have surged to more than 1.1 million, with nearly 100,000 cases in the last 24 hours. The global death toll is topping 60,000 with France and the U.S reporting more than 1,000 deaths in the last 24 hours.

Americans Expected To Wear Face Coverings

The CDC has released new guidelines urging Americans to wear face coverings in public, especially in grocery stores, pharmacies, and in areas of community-based transmission. The new guidelines come as studies show that asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals transmit the virus to others through speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. 

Health officials in Los Angeles had already urged Angelinos to wear homemade masks in public just a day earlier. The CDC discourages the buying of surgical or N95 masks as they are needed for front-line workers. Rather, people should use household items such as scarves, bandannas or fabric. Japan, Austria, and the Czech Republic have all encourage the wearing of face masks in public. Controversially, the WHO still recommends the use of masks only for sick people or those taking care of someone who is sick.

China Hoards Mask Supply

Global supplies of surgical and N95 masks remain scarce as China has been hoarding supplies since the outbreak began. According to a WSJ report, 85% of masks are produced in China and it has expanded production nearly 12-fold. China also sourced and bought a big chunk of the world’s supply from other countries. From January 24th to February 11th, China managed to import 730 million masks from other countries.

Minnesota-based 3M claims most of the masks it made at its factory in Shanghai had been sold within China even before the outbreak. This week, President Trump signed a Defense Production Act order aimed at requiring 3M to prioritize orders from the U.S. government. However, 3M has pushed back against the order, claiming that stopping the export of respirators would likely cause retaliation.

NYC Is World’s 7th Hardest-Hit Location

Over the last 24 hours, the U.S. has reported 1,320 deaths, with more than 500 from NYC. First responders in NYC are overwhelmed from unprecedented call volumes and working multiple double shifts.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio says the city is in need of an additional 45,000 clinical employees. The city already has 125,000 medical employees in force. About 7,500 employees are needed in traditional, standing hospitals while more than 37,000 are needed to work at field hospitals, such as the Javits Center, the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and city hotels.

California Sets Up Fifth Federal Hospital

A team of soldiers from the California National Guard will construct a federal medical station at the Redding Convention Center and Civic Auditorium in Shasta County, California, about 160 miles north of Sacramento.

California has already set up other pop-up hospitals in San Mateo, Santa Clara, Los Angeles, and Riverside. The hospital was ordered by the California Office of Emergency Services to help mitigate hospital overflow from COVID-19 patients. It’s estimated that the facility has beds, supplies, and medicine for 250 patients.

The United States Army is also building field hospitals in CenturyLink Field in Seattle and in Central Park in New York City. Initially, for non-virus patients, the Department of Defense has reversed its position and said these locations will now accept COVID-19 patients.

The USNS Comfort hospital ship in New York has also changed its guidelines to accept asymptomatic patients. Initially, the vessel would only take those who tested negative for the coronavirus. The screening protocols will now occur on the ship’s pier in an effort to reduce the backlog at some of the nearby hospitals. Each patient will still be screened by temperature and a short questionnaire.

Hospital Ships May Allow Coronavirus Patients

The Pentagon is now considering allowing coronavirus patients on the USNS hospital ships. General Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the Defense Department is “reassessing” whether to allow coronavirus patients aboard the Comfort and the Mercy. The consideration comes after New York hospital executives complained that the Comfort only had 20 patients while hospitals in the city were overrun. A decision could come in the next few days.

550,000 NHS Staff, Only 2,000 Tested

The British government is under fire as only testing 2,000 of 550,000 NHS staff have been tested for COVID-19. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who tested positive himself, pledged the government was going all out to support front-line health care workers. Libby Nolan, a nurse from Wales who has coronavirus symptoms and is waiting on test results, notes that Johnson was tested quickly, unlike the tens of thousands of health care staff who remain untested in self-isolation, unable to work. More than 3,600 people have died from coronavirus in the UK.

Google Tracking Reveals Lack Of Social Distancing

Google tracking data shows New Yorkers are doing less social distancing than residents of hard-hit Spain and Italy. Coronavirus Task Force member Deborah Birx says that she could tell by the US increase in new infections that people are not abiding by to stay at home orders. In New York state, foot traffic was down 68 percent, compared to roughly 90 percent in Italy and Spain.