HealthDay News — The US Department of Veterans Affairs says it may not have enough personal protective equipment for medical staff if there is a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the peak of the pandemic, the VA’s 170 medical centers were using 250,000 N95 masks a day, which was a “daunting amount,” the department’s top health official, Richard Stone, MD, told the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.
Currently, the VA has about a 30-day supply of masks, gowns, and other protective gear. But the agency needs a 60-day supply to meet growing demand as the VA starts to fully reopen its medical centers, and it would require a six-month supply to cope with a second wave of COVID-19, according to Stone. “A future pandemic wave may test all of us in our preparation,” Stone told the committee, the AP reported.
In preparation for a possible second wave, Stone said the VA has added more than 18,000 medical staff and will hire more and is preparing four “readiness centers” that will be stocked with personal protective equipment. He also noted that the VA is currently spending $100 million a month on personal protective equipment compared with $10 million a month before the pandemic, the AP reported.