The World Health Organization today declared the coronavirus a pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday released updated recommendations advising that facemasks for clinical providers are an acceptable alternative when there is a shortage of N95 respirators.
Given the pandemic declaration, the American Nurses Association (ANA), representing the nation’s 4 million registered nurses, believes a more definitive statement from CDC about the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) is needed. Nurses must feel confident in this guidance that a medical mask, along with the other required droplet PPE, is appropriate to provide patient care for known COVID-19 cases.
While ANA acknowledges the challenges of ensuring an adequate PPE supply, we are concerned that CDC recommendations are based solely on supply chain and manufacturing challenges. Rationale for changes of this magnitude should be based on evidence that reflects a better understanding of the transmission of COVID-19. It’s also concerning that these recommendations do not offer strategies to address the limited manufacturing and supply chain of necessary personal protective equipment (PPE). While the interim recommendations may assist in preserving the supply of N95 respirators and other PPE, it could also confuse health care professionals considering appropriate levels of protection that may be needed when caring for a known or suspected patient.
We urge the CDC to consider the following actions:
- Investigate and communicate on the transmission mode for coronavirus so that decisions about appropriate PPE are based on the best information available.
- Identify metrics for when the interim guidance will be rescinded to ensure that clinical providers and health care facilities can prepare to continue caring for their patients and communities.
Nurses must trust that the decisions made at all levels are focused on their protection. This is necessary for them to walk into a room every day and to safely continue providing ongoing patient care in all health care settings.
ANA supports ongoing efforts to address and stem the spread of COVID-19. We appreciate the efforts of all nurses, members of the health care team, decision makers and the public to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.
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The American Nurses Association (ANA) is the premier organization representing the interests of the nation’s 4 million registered nurses. ANA advances the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting a safe and ethical work environment, bolstering the health and wellness of nurses, and advocating on health care issues that affect nurses and the public. ANA is at the forefront of improving the quality of health care for all. For more information, visit www.nursingworld.org.