Almost 6,000 medical masks sent to Alabama had dry rot and an expiration date in 2010. Over 150 ventilators sent to Los Angeles were broken and had to be repaired. In Oregon, defective elastic masks could cause the straps to break, exposing medical workers to the disease.
“Several of the shipments we have received from the national strategic stock contained (personal protective equipment) have exceeded expiration dates and, although we are told that a large part of the expired equipment is capable of being used for the COVID-19 response, they would not be suitable for surgical use, “said Charles Boyle, spokesperson for Oregon Governor Kate Brown in an email.
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He said some equipment was purchased during the H1N1 epidemic over a decade ago and that masks with fragile elastic were among the products previously recalled by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . The state did not distribute them to medical workers.
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A shortage of protective equipment has put physicians, nurses and other front-line medical workers at risk. Life saving ventilators are rare, as more and more states are experiencing outbreaks of COVID-19 disease, which usually cause mild or moderate symptoms but can be especially dangerous for the elderly and people with existing health problems . Many young adults and medical workers have also died from the disease.
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Many governors have complained of delays in obtaining equipment from the national strategic stock or in receiving much less equipment than they had requested. This frustration is compounded when the equipment arrives, but cannot be used.
Dr. Don Williamson, president of the Alabama Hospital Association and former state senior public health official, said he had received several emails from hospitals regarding shipments of stocks of N95 masks in which the elastic bands that held the mask tight around the wearer’s face had dry rot. They could only be used if the bands were replaced.
Montgomery County received nearly 6,000 medical masks of a different type that exhibited dry rot, a shipment that was replaced about a week later.
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“This is really alarming because these masks are desperately needed,” said US Senator Doug Jones of Alabama. “When our national stock is not sufficiently monitored to know that you have expired masks and rotten masks there and not restocked, this is a real problem. “
Colorado Senator Cory Gardner asked for an inquiry into the management of the supply and distribution of domestic stock fans on Friday. Among other things, he cited reports that maintenance failures contributed to the lack of operational fans “at a time when our country desperately needed them.”
Los Angeles received about 170 fans from the national stock that were in poor condition. Governor Gavin Newsom said they were sent to a company for repair.
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In New Hampshire, the Congress delegation wrote to the United States Department of Health and Human Services saying that many of the supplies received by the state were out of date. In addition, more than 16,000 latex gloves could not be used in medical settings due to latex allergies.
The CDC acknowledged late last month that some items in US stocks have passed their manufacturer’s designated shelf life. However, they were sent to hospitals “because of the potential urgent demand caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency,” the CDC said.
Associated Press editors Adam Beam in Sacramento, California; Holly Ramer in Concord, New Hampshire; and Andrew Selsky in Salem, Oregon contributed to this report.
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