The Ridiculously Annoying Mask Fiasco

I’m so tired of blogging about this; I’ll try to make this my last entry on this topic. But the brilliantly-timed IOM report has now placed incredible pressure on U.S. hospitals to procure enough N95 masks to allow use for all direct contact with patients who have febrile respiratory illness.

But there aren’t enough masks. Not even close, from what I understand. Our hospital was just informed that our large order is “behind 15 other very large orders”. Who knows when we’ll get them?

Tom Freiden referred to this issue in the CDC conference call when he stated that IOM’s charge was only to look at the science (which is inconclusive), not at feasibility. If CDC plans to issue new guidance that takes feasibility issues into account, I suggest that they do so very soon.

Meanwhile, we have reassuring data from the Southern Hemisphere, which is now near the end of its annual influenza season. Almost all the circulating virus this year was H1N1, and the season was….(drum roll)…..much like other recent influenza seasons. Pneumonia and influenza related death rates in Australia since 2005 are illustrated below:


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