Florida doctors are reusing masks as the Coronavirus pandemic depletes supplies

Investigations

TAMPA (WFLA) – There are frustrations on the front lines.

Right now, some doctors in the Tampa Bay area are reusing face masks. They fear, supply shortages are potentially putting the public at risk.

This comes as the CDC has issued some unexpected guidelines on personal protective gear.

The CDC states, as a last resort, health care workers can tie a bandanna or scarf around their face for protection.

“Our most critical need is in the area of masks,” said Dr. Steven G. Achinger. “The N95 mask that is going to filter these viral particles out of the air.”

Dr. Achinger is the Managing Partner and Chairman of the Board of Directors at the Watson Clinic in Lakeland.

“I’m very concerned about the potential that, some of our staff … and employees might get sick.”

Health care workers, including Dr. Achinger tell 8 On Your Side, they’re not comfortable with a homemade fix.

“It’s an untested recommendation and I probably wouldn’t go forward with it,” said Dr. Achinger.

Meantime, 8 On Your Side is looking into Florida’s stockpile of medical supplies.

“The way emergency management works is your not just thinking about today,” said Jared Moskowitz, Florida’s Emergency Management Director.

Emergency management officials say our collection is growing by the minute.

Just this week, they placed an order for 250,000 coveralls, 500,000 gowns, and two million N95 face masks.

The supplies are getting distributed throughout the state – and not just to doctors.

“Has there been any close calls with your firefighters potentially coming into contact with this virus?” asked investigative reporter Mahsa Saeidi.

“Well, yes,” said Tampa Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Mark Bogush.

Tampa firefighters are also on the front lines battling the Coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s a bad bug that we’re dealing with right now, it’s very contagious.”

Asst. Chief Bogush says his men and women are aware of the danger. If someone displays any COVID-19 symptoms, firefighters will approach with the proper gear.

Officials are urging the public to communicate with first responders off the bat. If you believe you may have contracted the Coronavirus, give them a head’s up.

“We’ve been fortunate in the fact that our firefighters have had enough awareness that they’ve been donning the PPE,” said Asst. Chief Bogush.

“So fingers crossed, knock on wood, rub the lucky rabbit’s foot, we’ve been very fortunate so far that we’ve been able to avoid that exposure.”

Tampa firefighters say they have all the gear they need for now.

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