Preventing transmission of respiratory pathogens including 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) requires the application of well-established infection control procedures and protocols including environmental and engineering controls, administrative controls, safer work practices, and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
To date, the Department of Public Health (DPH) has confirmed a single case of 2019-nCoV in Massachusetts, identified in Boston, on Saturday, February 1. The risk to Massachusetts residents continues to remain low at this time.
With the emergence of 2019-nCoV, there are concerns about possible shortages of key PPE necessary to provide care not only for suspected and confirmed 2019-nCoV cases, but also for routine, daily patient care requiring precautions for other reasons.
DPH is aware of isolated reports of supply shortages of N95 and surgical masks and is working with health care facilities and our regional partners to optimize PPE availability.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released updated guidance that provides strategies for optimizing the supply of N95 respirators. Please review the guidance, which is available by clicking here.
Given the increased demand for PPE supplies due to the 2019-nCoV outbreak combined with seasonal flu activity, DPH asks health care facilities to continue to prepare to care for patients with suspected or confirmed 2019-nCoV by implementing the following measures:
- Assess availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other infection prevention and control supplies (e.g., hand hygiene supplies) that would be used for both healthcare personnel (HCP) protection and source control for infected patients (e.g., facemask on the patient).
- Establish contingency plans if the demand for PPE or other supplies exceeds supply.
- Review plans for implementation of surge capacity procedures and crisis standards of care.
- Prioritize the use of N95 respirators for those healthcare personnel (HCP) at the highest risk of acquiring infection or experiencing complications of infection.
- Exclude health care personnel not directly involved in patient care for patients on isolation precautions (Contact, Droplet, or Airborne) from contact with these patients.
If a potential shortage of PPE is identified within a facility after taking these measures, health care facilities should utilize resources across their organization (including established supply chain processes), check with mutual aid partners, and if needed contact the appropriate regional Health and Medical Coordinating Coalition (HMCC) for resource support.
For the latest information, visit the DPH 2019 Novel Coronavirus website which is updated frequently.