What We're Reading: Widespread PPE Shortage Reported; Timing of Lockdown Cost Lives; Special Education Setbacks

May 21, 2020
AJMC Staff
AJMC Staff

A new survey highlights a nationwide lack of personal protective equipment (PPE); a model shows how earlier social distancing guidelines could have spared thousands from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); parents fear consequences of online schooling for their special needs children.

Survey Highlights Nationwide PPE Shortages

A survey conducted by National Nurses United of nearly 23,000 nurses revealed new data highlighting the widespread scarcity of personal protective equipment (PPE) throughout the country. Eighty-seven percent of respondents reported having to reuse a single-use disposable respirator or mask around a patient with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), while 72% reported having exposed skin or clothing when caring for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Of the nurses who participated in the survey, only around 16% have been tested for COVID-19 and more than 500 respondents reported a positive test result. Among infected nurses, 33% reported that their employer requires them to use their own paid time off, sick leave, or vacation time to self-quarantine.

Earlier Social Distancing Could Have Saved Thousands of Lives, Model Shows

Data from Colombia University disease modelers show that delays in implementing lockdowns in the United States cost at least 36,000 lives, The New York Times reports. Small changes in timing could have preventing even the worst exponential growth in cities like New York and New Orleans. Researchers estimate that had social distancing started 1 week earlier than it did in March, estimated deaths on May 3 would be roughly 29,000 compared with the actual number of 65,300. If social distancing measures were implemented on March 1, researchers estimate the majority of the nation’s deaths, around 83%, could have been avoided. The model also demonstrates how, as states reopen, outbreaks can get out of control in the absence of vigilant monitoring of new infections.

Parents Fear Online School Leaves Special Needs Children Behind

Some Illinois school districts are asking parents of special education students to accept reduced remote learning programs or waive the rights to the “free appropriate public education” their children are entitled to, ProPublica reports. Parents of special needs children worry that the move to online education for the foreseeable future may leave their children behind, as speech therapy or counseling may not be offered under the current model. This week, the Chicago Teachers Union filed a federal lawsuit over how Chicago public schools and the US Department of Education have handled special education during the pandemic. The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act guarantees these students access to schooling and services.