FEMA plans to have dentists reuse masks, gowns through summer

The Federal Emergency Management Agency intends to increase personal protective gear supply over the summer in part by reusing N95 masks and surgical gowns, according to an internal document cited by Roll Call.

"The demand for gowns outpaces current U.S. manufacturing capabilities," reads the document released June 9.

Since the pandemic began, domestic manufacturing of gowns and surgical masks has increased by a few thousand per month. Now, as elective surgeries and dental procedures resume, the demand for personal protective gear is rising.

The document was given to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee ahead of a June 9 hearing on inadequate distribution of supplies, and Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., demanded the document be made public.

The information doesn't include independent purchases by states, commercial donations, small distributors or direct shipments from manufacturers. FEMA also anticipates a surge of face shields from "non-traditional" suppliers like car and plane manufacturers that will meet the demand. The documents reveal projections of a decline in supply demand from hospitals. The agency also anticipates an increase in N95 respirator mask supply in the fall as contracts funded through pandemic relief laws cleared by Congress are fulfilled.

FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor said it was difficult to make the projections, because officials had to take into account the demand for PPE from people who don't typically wear it.

More articles on dental:
HHS releases provider relief funds: What it means for dentists
ADA distributes KN95 masks from national stockpile to dentists
'We’ll rebuild better than before': Minneapolis dentists vows to restore destroyed practice

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