COVID-19 Dispatch Part 1: As New York City hospitals fill up, medical masks run out



Columbus Avenue in New York City is empty except for a dog walker, Mar. 26.

Gabby Felitto

As COVID-19 spreads, many medical professionals are overwhelmed. To make matters worse, a shortage of masks and other supplies is beginning to take hold, according to a March 19 New York Times article.

While health care workers are struggling to get supplied with the masks they need to work, I have increasingly seen more and more people wearing masks everytime I go outside. 

While many are anxious about the virus and believe masks will prevent them from getting the virus, they need to think about those who are working on the front lines of the virus and stop hoarding masks. 

Both of my parents are hospital pharmacists. We are also living in New York City, which is now a hotspot, with more than 33,400 confirmed cases, according to a March 30th CNBC article. 

My mom showed me the only surgical mask she was given for the week. My dad complains about the “woke,” young adults shopping outside wearing masks. “They’re wearing all these masks, but I have to use the same mask the whole week while working because of shortages.” he said to me. 

My dad later complained how the people he sees wearing masks don’t know how to properly use them. 

A cameraman stands alone in the streets of Time Square, Mar. 26.

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said most people who don’t know how to properly wear these masks tend to touch their faces a lot, which can increase the spread of the virus, according to a March 4 Time article.

This shortage is also causing doctors to have to wash or disinfect their masks between patients. Many fear that they will infect patients who don’t have the virus due to reusing the masks, according to a March 22 New York Times article. 

Even though this is so unsanitary, it’s all health care professionals can do at this moment to try and prevent spread.

The World Health Organization reports   that the only people who should be wearing masks are healthy people who are taking care of sick people or sick people who are out in public, according to a March 2 New York Times article.

Like many others working in health care, my parents are increasingly worried about exposing the virus to my family and me. Living in an apartment with six people isn’t the most ideal place to practice social distancing, especially when two people work in a hospital. 

My dad started to elbow greet me and confines himself to the living room now. It’s harder though to social distance with my mom, as we share the same room. 

The federal government is also not very helpful in this situation. President Donald Trump has said the federal government isn’t supposed to be buying items like masks and surgical gowns and acting as a shipping clerk, according to the Mar 19 New York Times article. 

President Trump is instead leaving that responsibility to the governors.  He is taking no responsibility and showing no leadership by shoving this huge responsibility away during a crisis like this. 

If you are one of these people with many masks, instead of wearing them outside to go shopping or walk your dog, donate them to a hospital to help those who are really at risk. It’s the least you can do.