Virginia Nursing Homes Report Lack of N95 Masks, Isolation Gowns

May 19, 2020


Credit Steve Helber / AP


Nursing homes in Virginia continue to have difficulty obtaining personal protective equipment. That’s according to new data published this week by the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association. 

As of Tuesday, nine nursing homes in Virginia report difficulty getting N95 masks within the last three days, 17 facilities say the same for isolation gowns. 

The numbers are likely even higher, explains Keith Hare with the Virginia Health Care Association, because the response rate for nursing homes is between 80 and 90-percent. More significantly, the data does not include assisted living facilities. 

“Can we say absolutely that every nursing home and every assisted living provider in Virginia has all the PPE they need to withstand an outbreak? No we’re not there yet,” Hare said during a phone interview Tuesday. 

Outbreaks at long term care continue to be responsible for almost 60-percent of COVID-19 deaths in the state. And when an outbreak occurs a facility starts burning through PPE. 

Hare says things have gotten better in the past month, and facilities with outbreaks have been able to rely on public officials for help.

“When the facilities have an outbreak the health department, the state, they have come in with additional PPE,” he said. 

But, ideally, they’d be at the point where nursing homes and assisted living facilities have those supplies already on hand, or at least they know how much they would need and that the amount is available regionally. 

Federal officials have promised a two week supply to every nursing home in the state, but outside of Northern Virginia that hasn’t materialized yet. The Virginia Health Care Association is hopeful the materials will come in the next several weeks.


This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.