FDA says now-plentiful N95 masks should no longer be reused

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FILE – In this Friday, May 8, 2020 file photo, a respiratory therapist pulls on a second mask over her N95 mask before adding a face shield as she gets ready to go into a patient’s room in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit at a hospital in Seattle. Medical providers may soon return to using one medical N95 mask per patient, a practice that was suspended during the pandemic due to deadly supply shortages. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

(NEXSTAR) – Medical providers may soon return to using one medical N95 mask per patient, a practice that was suspended during the pandemic due to deadly supply shortages.

Because of a nationwide shortage of gowns, masks and gloves that saw nurses in some hospitals crafting protective gear out of trash bags in spring of 2020, the Trump administration allowed hospitals to clean and reuse masks.

The Biden Administration says there are now adequate supplies of N95 masks, and that hospitals and health care facilities should transition away from rationing the safety equipment.

The FDA issued a statement earlier this month recommending that health care facilities “transition away from crisis capacity conservation strategies.”

The National Nurses Union, the largest professional association of registered nurses in the country, calls the new guidance “a tiny step in the right direction” but “ultimately fails” to protect nurses because it allows employers to use their discretion about what normal N95 supply is.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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