Tracking Coronavirus: Masks — who needs them, who doesn’t


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Governor Bill Lee said Tuesday the state is working on shipping personal protective equipment to all 95 counties as the nation battles limited resources of PPE’s during the coronavirus pandemic.

Knox County Health Department Director of Communicable and Environmental Disease and Emergency Preparedness Charity Menefee says in order to have masks in the long run, recommendations are in place now to start conserving the use of the personal protective equipment.

Knox County Health Director Dr. Martha Buchanan saying the county received some supplies through the strategic national stockpile. Menefee said they don’t have an official count of masks. It’s a fluid number that’s constantly changing.

Although federal leaders are talking more about who should and should not be wearing masks, the Knox County Health Department is urging everyone to not take those supplies away from those on the frontlines who need it the most.

Menefee says they current guidelines for who should wear masks are staying in place for now.

“Health care providers that are caring for patients that have or could have COVID-19 are first and foremost those who need masks, and that’s from frontline providers and EMS through the healthcare system, people that are testing patients, all of those folks,” Menefee said, “We also recommend that people that are caring for people that are ill with COVID-19 when they have to go to the doctor’s office or whatnot, they put those masks on as well. If they have to be out, that’s where we’re sticking with our message.”

Menefee did say that if you wanted to make your own mask, feel free to do so, but they are not recommending healthcare professionals use homemade masks.

One way masks are being freed up is by health care providers canceling elective surgeries. Governor Lee said Tuesday the state has received many donations of masks from businesses not needing them during this time or other companies learning how to make professional-grade personal protective equipment.

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