LOS ANGELES - California on Tuesday received approval to release millions of respiratory face masks to help protect health care professionals on the frontlines of the fight against novel coronavirus.
The spread of COVID-19 has caused nationwide shortages of N95 Filtering Facepiece Masks for medical professionals.
The Public Health Department received approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health to use some of its emergency planning reserves of 21 million N95 filtering facepiece masks in certain situations.
Although some of the N95 masks are past their manufacturer use-by date, the California Department of Public Health says that the masks have been stored in climate-controlled conditions that preserved the masks’ efficacy.
"The way the masks have been stored will prevent the degradation of elastic that slips around the ears, a key factor in the CDC and NIOSH’s approval," Public Health wrote in a press release.
The emergency planning reserves of N95 masks, some of which are past their manufacturer use-by date, have been stored in climate-controlled conditions that preserved the masks’ efficacy. The way the masks have been stored will prevent the degradation of elastic that slips around the ears, a key factor in the CDC and NIOSH’s approval.
The California Department of Public Health, along with the CDC, does not recommend that healthy people wear masks at this time. However, masks are recommended to limit the spread of disease for people who are exhibiting respiratory symptoms.
“California is working hard to ensure our health care system is in the strongest possible position to respond to this evolving situation,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “Critical to that effort is making sure health care workers have the medical masks and protective equipment they need to protect themselves while caring for patients. Our state is extremely grateful for the hard work and dedication of our health care workers in this time of expanded need.”
“Protecting the health and safety of the doctors, nurses, and other health care and dental care providers is a critical component of ensuring our public health at any time, and particularly now,” said Dr. Sonia Angell, Director of the California Department of Public Health and State Health Officer. “Releasing this supply of masks will help keep our health care professionals safe on the job.”