The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, like health care organizations around the world, is facing a global shortage of personal protective equipment, including hospital-grade masks.

CEO Lori Marshall says the hospital has about a four to five week supply of masks, which is being rationed. She says they’re looking for every possible way to change their normal practices to conserve PPE.

“An example is, most people who’ve been admitted to hospital might have had an intravenous line and they have those pumps and alarms go off, and then someone has to come into the room and push a button,” Marshall explains. “We’re looking at tubing that will allow us to have those pumps out closer to the hallway and somebody doesn’t have to put on personal protective equipment just to turn off an alarm.”

Marshall says new manufactures are coming on board to help create more masks. As well, there is a local drive for health care mask donations, being organized by the Christian Labour Association.

In terms of plain masks some local citizens have been wearing, Marshall says they really only protect other people from your own cough, but won’t protect you from the coronavirus or any other germs.

As it stands, there are still only two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Chatham-Kent.

“We do have a number of individuals, I’d say a handful, that were waiting on test results, we’re getting result pretty much every day,” Marshall says. “I think yesterday we got four results back, all that were negative. That was certainly good news, but it also doesn’t mean we can become complacent.”

Marshall says the low number of positive results shows that local efforts in hand washing and social distancing are working, and need to continue to help flatten the curve.