Coronavirus fears lead to mask shortages in Bay Area health clinics

Coronavirus

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) – Bay Area health clinics are scrambling for supplies to protect health care workers.

Right now, N95 masks and procedure masks are in a global shortage.

Places like Foothill Community Health Center in Santa Clara County say they can’t get their hands on N95 masks and they’re running out of surgical and procedure masks.

Foothill Community Health Center has 13 clinics across the county and across all of the clinics they’re facing shortages.

The safety manager says patients are even coming in asking for the surgical masks but now they don’t have enough to spare.

“To be honest, to answer your question we have never experienced that before. This is the first time this is happening and you know everything’s back ordered and were still looking for more supplies,” Umar Murtaza said.

Safety and facilities manager, Umar Murtaza, says all 13 of its clinics in the county are out of N95 masks and running low on surgical and procedure masks.

“I think it started a month ago so we ran out of the supplies, especially the n95 masks in our clinics. The current situation is even our surgical masks, they’re back ordered especially from our main vendors,” Murtaza said.

For the health center, it’s also the regular flu season, requiring its staff to always wear protective masks.

“Got really worried when I heard our surgical masks are running out too. in the normal flu season, we wear our surgical masks so we still warn all of our employees to treat this as a flu season and front desk has to have the mask on at all times and back-office needs to have them on at all times,” Murtaza said. 

So far, health officials confirmed two coronavirus cases in Santa Clara County.

Murtaza says no patients have come to their clinics with the virus but they need to be prepared if and when that happens.

“Overall operations I think the thing that has most affected us is our supplies for our clinics especially the N95 mask,” Murtaza said. 

Murtaza says the clinics have enough surgical and procedure masks to last them another few weeks but are in need of supplies soon.

Still, no N95 masks are available though.

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