Coronavirus News: Nurses forced to ration supplies amid COVID-19 outbreak

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Many health care workers are concerned the protective masks, shields and gloves they wear to treat patients during the COVID-19 novel coronavirus outbreak are running dangerously low.

"There's a tremendous amount of anxiety," said Anthony Ciampa, a nurse with the New York State Nurses Association. "We're being put in a position where we need to ration our supplies and that will ultimately not lead to the best possible practices."

Many nurses are worried about protective gear for them and patients.

"None of us are getting the adequate supplies that we need," said Michelle Gonzalez, who works as an ICU nurse in the Bronx. "They're asking workers to reutilize masks. They're asking the workers wipe them down with wipes."

In New York City alone, Mayor Bill de Blasio said 3 million N95 masks are needed, along with 50 million surgical masks, 15,000 ventilators and 45 million surgical gowns.

On Friday, Governor Andrew Cuomo called on any company that can to make them.

"Ventilators are to this war what missiles were to World War II," he said.

Dr. Robyn Gershon, with the NYU School of Global Public Health, says there's so much demand for supplies that we need to rely on local business to make them and the federal government to take action.

"We failed to take action when we could've," she said. "I'm hearing stories of nurses spraying them with alcohol, letting them dry, and reusing them. They are not designed for that type of handling."

Cuomo is also asking for closed medical and dental offices to donate unneeded supplies to hospitals in need.

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