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Personal protective equipment (PPE) has been center stage since we began battling the novel coronavirus here in the U.S. From supply shortages to the masses learning how critical this protective gear is in creating a barrier against disease and infection. Protective gear can range from a simple pair of latex gloves to protect the hands, to the very important face masks for shielding droplets in the air and many other types of protection. Wearing masks have become a requirement for almost everyone in public places. Understanding how masks and PPE work to protect us and why it’s important are both key factors in ensuring everyone continues to abide by the regulations.

What is PPE?

PPE is an acronym used for “personal protective equipment” – or anything that can be used to create a barrier between a person’s mouth, nose, eyes, skin, or other cavities where a viral or bacterial infection can enter. For years it was used mostly in medical settings or where contact with dangerous chemicals may have occurred. Today, however, the use of gloves, medical gowns, masks, and especially N95 respirators is becoming more commonplace.

PPE works to protect individuals on a personal level and per situation. Since most of the equipment is tossed after use to stop the potential spread of an infection, we have now entered an era where supply shortages are an issue.

Why are Masks and PPE Critical During COVID-19?

Masks and PPE are necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19 and reduce hospitalizations. The mandate that anyone who is within 6 ft. of others in public places where masks or cloth coverings, and the additional safety steps many businesses are taking to keep surfaces sanitized and safe is increasing the use of PPE daily.

Masks and other PPE is required in all workplaces today to help shield workers against exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Additional steps are being required to lessen the need for PPE in situations where social distancing and sanitary practices can stop contact. Usage reduction strategies include allowing non-essential employees to work remotely or to suspend those job functions where essential PPE is required until more supplies are procured.

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