'It's a little scary': Chicago dentists still struggling to obtain PPE

Plagued by pandemic-induced product shortages and price gouging, some Chicago dentists are still finding it difficult to manage their personal protective equipment supply amid the pandemic, according to local CBS affiliate WBBM-TV.

Lauren Zalay, DDS, told WBBM-TV her practice pays about $6 for each of its protective gowns now, compared to just $1.89 pre-pandemic. She also said the price for gloves has doubled.

"Major distributors are price gouging us," she told WBBM-TV. "They know we need it and they know they have it."

Jacob Bloom, MD, who performs facial plastic surgery in Chicago, showed WBBM-TV his PPE distributor's website to illustrate how many products are out of stock, saying he hasn't been able to obtain gloves.

"It’s a little scary," he told WBBM-TV.

The supply shortage has spurred a dangerous market for counterfeits, which dental professionals must be wary of as they look for new ways to obtain PPE. WBBM-TV reported that federal authorities seized $3 million worth of fake masks at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport in September.

To help address the issue she and her colleagues are facing, Dr. Zalay told WBBM-TV she recently partnered with the philanthropist, who wishes to remain anonymous, behind MRI-care.com. The company cuts out the distributor middleman by selling directly to consumers, which allows dentists who purchase from the site to enjoy lower costs.

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