The United States is setting records for daily COVID-19 cases, with more than 120,000 cases recorded on Thursday. Some areas, that had previously recorded low numbers, like the Dakotas, Montana and Idaho, are now reporting surge capacity at some hospitals, while other areas that were tremendously impacted earlier in the year, like Brooklyn, New York, are reporting a troubling upward creep of case counts.
The spike in recent cases has exacerbated chronic shortages of PPE, particularly in hotspots, in response to which Direct Relief has intensified emergency deliveries of PPE and other essential medications to U.S. health facilities requesting help. The organization has continuously shipped PPE, essential medicines and other requested items to health providers in all 50 U.S. states and territories since the start of the pandemic.
Over the last two weeks, the organization has shipped 282 shipments of medical aid, amounting to 26,937 pounds, to 246 hospitals, community health centers, free clinics, public health departments, and other health safety net facilities in the United States. These shipments contained specifically requested medications and supplies, such as N95 masks, surgical masks, face shields, isolation gowns, gloves, coveralls, thermometers, pulse oximeters, antibiotics, and vaccines for healthcare employees.
Another infusion of PPE from Direct Relief is currently underway in response to requests from areas experiencing a “third wave” of infections.
Hospitals in El Paso, Texas have requested support recently, including the El Paso Medical Center, which received three portable ventilators and five oxygen concentrators to assist a surge in patients. A shipment containing 4,800 N95 masks and 300 pulse oximeters is also being prepared for the hospital currently. Primary care in the area was also on the receiving end of Direct Relief support, as El Paso health center, Centro San Vicente, also received an infusion of support this week, including critical PPE, including gowns, face shields, N95 masks, and hand sanitizer.
In Montana, some facilities are at capacity as they see a large spike in cases. Shipments are being prepared for Kalispell Regional Healthcare, which will receive a pallet of hand sanitizer, nearly 10,000 N95 masks, face shields, thermometers, gowns and pulse oximeters. Benefis Hospital in Great Falls, and Marias Medical Center in Shelby, are also receiving PPE, hand sanitizer and other requested medical aid. Direct Relief staff have also reached out to hospitals in Cut Bank, Browning and Harve and are ready to respond to any requests. In Idaho, Bronner General Hospital in Sandpoint and St. Luke’s in Boise, will also be receiving PPE support in the coming weeks.
Even though it experienced a devastating surge of cases and fatalities earlier this year, New York City is currently seeing an increase in COVID-19 positivity rates. Brownsville Health Center in Brooklyn, New York, will be receiving N95s, and surgical masks to support their work. The health center has provided expanded testing in the area, while maintaining ongoing services for primary, specialty, dental and mental health services, creating a need for PPE support.
Since the start of the pandemic, Direct Relief has sent more than 24,000 shipments containing more than 43 million masks, 7 million gloves and millions of other PPE items, to more than 1,900 health facilities throughout the U.S. and world.
As the winter months begin and the pandemic continues, the organization stands ready to respond as needed.