Global & Disaster Medicine

CDC: Healthcare Supply of Personal Protective Equipment


CDC continues to monitor the 2019-nCoV situation in the United States and around the world. CDC has taken early and aggressive actions to prevent the spread of 2019-nCoV in the United States, through a combination of proven public health actions. At the same time, CDC is preparing for the possibility that the 2019-nCoV situation in the US  could become more serious, with sustained community transmission, and is taking steps to make sure there are enough supplies and appropriate guidance to prevent spread of disease, especially among healthcare personnel caring for patients with 2019-nCoV.

Healthcare personnel can protect themselves when caring for patients by adhering to infection prevention and control practices, which includes the appropriate use of engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment (PPE). CDC has issued guidance recommending the use of PPE for healthcare personnel caring for patients with confirmed or possible 2019-nCoV infection. Employers and healthcare personnel are reminded that PPE is only one aspect of safe care of patients with 2019-nCoV. For the general public, CDC does not recommend the use of facemasks or respirators. CDC guidance is based on what we know about 2019-nCoV and what we know about similar coronaviruses, like SARS and MERS.

CDC also understands the importance of providing guidance that healthcare facilities can implement, given supplies of PPE available. CDC communicates regularly with healthcare industry partners, as well as PPE manufacturers and distributors, to assess availability of PPE. At this time, some partners are reporting higher than usual demand for select N95 respirators and facemasks. If information about market availability changes, updates will be posted on this page.

Based on the current 2019-nCoV situation and availability of PPE, CDC has specific recommendations, summarized below. As we learn more about 2019-nCoV and as the needs of the response or availability of PPE within U.S. healthcare facilities changes, we will update our guidance.

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Who needs PPE:

Patients with confirmed or possible 2019-nCoV infection should wear a facemask when being evaluated medically.

Healthcare personnel should adhere to Standard, Contact, and Airborne Precautions, including the use of eye protection (e.g., goggles or a face shield) when caring for patients with 2019-nCoV infection. These precautions include the use of PPE, including NIOSH-approved N95 respirators, gowns, gloves, face shield/eye protection, etc. This includes, but is not limited to, surgical N95 respirators.

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Who does not need PPE:

CDC does NOT currently recommend the general public use facemasks. Instead, CDC recommends following everyday preventive actions, such as washing your hands, covering your cough, and staying home when you are sick.

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Manufacturers and Distributors:

Cases of 2019-nCoV are being reported in China as well as other countries. Given decreases in exports from select countries (e.g., China, India, Taiwan) and increases in demand due to the outbreak, manufacturers of select types of PPE are reporting increased volume of orders and challenges in meeting order demands. Plans to surge manufacturing globally are underway.

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Strategies for Optimizing Supply of N95 Respirators

CDC offers strategies for healthcare settings on how to optimize supplies of N95 respirators in the face of decreasing supply. These strategies are organized using the occupational health and safety hierarchy of controls approach.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Respirators and Their Use

CDC answers frequently asked questions about respirators and their use for healthcare personnel and the general public.

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