Coronavirus: SF health care workers more concerned about medical supply shortage than COVID-19 itself

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Emergency room doctors and nurses say they don't fear the coronavirus, as much as they worry about the shortage of protective gear to keep them from catching the disease and spreading it to patients.

San Francisco native Dr. Jeremy Faust is an emergency room doctor at Boston's Brigham and Women's College and instructor at Harvard Medical School.

"There really are places around the country where we don't have what we need. There are places where it's okay and places where it's not," Faust said.

He says there are shortages of gowns, plastic face shields and those N95 masks that filter out the virus.

"When we don't have what we need, it kind of violates the first rule of any emergency or any medical problem, which is see in safety. We (got to) be safe so you can be safe," he said.

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California has received more than 350,000 masks from federal stockpiles and is requesting 20 million more. But while hospitals wait, they must see patients using what they have on hand.

Meantime Faust has also been thinking about what to do with patients who test positive for coronavirus but have few or no symptoms.

"Every patient who comes in doesn't necessarily really need medical attention. They need diagnosis and they need isolation," Faust said.

And hospitals want to use beds for severe cases.

Faust's solution?

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"Hotel takeovers. The government should be actually bailing the hotel industry. They'll be welcoming," he said.

Faust recently co-authored an op-ed in the Washington Post recommending that empty hotels be used to isolate people with coronavirus until the virus goes away.

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