SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Salem Health has temporarily stopped coronavirus testing in three of its clinics and hospital emergency room because of a supply shortage.
Salem Health said Wednesday evening that their hospitals and clinics began outpatient testing for COVID-19 on March 16. Officials said in a news release that because of a shortage, they must preserve their kits and supplies for hospitalized patients.
More broadly, the state’s emergency stockpile is quickly running out, the Oregonian/OregonLive reported. The state has given out 100% of the gowns, 95% of the face shields and more than 80% of the N-95 respirators it had saved in state warehouses. The depletion of the state’s protective equipment was detailed in a Wednesday “situation status report.”
And an expected surge in COVID-19 victims hasn’t yet begun.
The state’s emergency supply is intended to augment the private sources of vital medical goods in times of crisis and the state had, for instance, more than 500,000 N-95 respirators.
But that supply has not been sufficient. Virtually every major hospital and health system in the Portland area has warned they are running low.
Respirators and other safety equipment are vital during the pandemic because the virus that causes COVID-19 is so infectious. If doctors and nurses start contracting the virus, they will be sidelined at a time when they’re needed most.