AP: Discarded masks litter beaches worldwide, threaten sea life

AP: Discarded masks litter beaches worldwide, threaten sea life. “Discarded masks and gloves started showing up on beaches not long after the virus began circulating widely last year, and continued to appear as quarantine-weary people sought an escape at the beach. In the second half of 2020, more than 107,000 items of PPE were collected by volunteers around the world according to the Ocean Conservancy group — a figure its members believe is a vast undercount of the year’s true totals.”

CNBC: Covid masks and hand sanitizer can get you a tax break, IRS says

CNBC: Covid masks and hand sanitizer can get you a tax break, IRS says. “Americans can get a tax break this filing season for masks, hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes and other personal protective equipment to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the IRS announced Friday. The tax code lets taxpayers deduct medical costs that exceed 7.5% of their adjusted gross income each year. The IRS is counting costs incurred for PPE as a medical expense that qualifies for the tax break.”

Buffalo Business First: ‘Good intentions’ leave Buffalo manufacturers, suppliers struggling to sell PPE stockpiles

Buffalo Business First: ‘Good intentions’ leave Buffalo manufacturers, suppliers struggling to sell PPE stockpiles. “Founded in 1985 to supply gloves and masks to the medical industry during the height of the HIV epidemic, MDS evolved over the years to supplying equipment to the industrial and construction industries. By early 2020, just 10% of business was coming from medical customers – a figure that skyrocketed to 90% almost overnight during the pandemic. Existing relationships with suppliers from around the world gave the company a secure and reliable supply of products. Yet now the company is sitting on a stockpile of N95s, isolation gowns and gloves. Google has restricted online advertising for PPE in a bid to stop counterfeiters and preserve supply for the health care industry.”

Ars Technica: Why N95 masks are still hard to get, even though production is up

Ars Technica: Why N95 masks are still hard to get, even though production is up. “Even though we’ve had more good vaccine news lately, COVID-19 in the US is still very much a widespread concern. We’re still going to need masks for many months to come. So why, a year into the pandemic, are good ones still so hard to find? The New York Times reports that there are dozens of small, US-based businesses that have pivoted to making medical-grade masks, but they can’t sell them to consumers because of policies put in place to protect supply chains at the beginning of the pandemic.”

AP: Government investigating massive counterfeit N95 mask scam

AP: Government investigating massive counterfeit N95 mask scam. “Federal authorities are investigating a massive counterfeit N95 mask operation in which fake 3M masks were sold in at least five states to hospitals, medical facilities and government agencies. The foreign-made knockoffs are becoming increasingly difficult to spot and could put health care workers at grave risk for the coronavirus.”

Washington Post: Biden harnesses Defense Production Act to speed vaccinations and production of protective equipment

Washington Post: Biden harnesses Defense Production Act to speed vaccinations and production of protective equipment. “The Biden administration announced a handful of initiatives Friday aimed at accelerating mass inoculations against the coronavirus and expanding production of rapid tests and surgical gloves to help control the pathogen. In the most immediate action, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin approved a request from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to deploy 1,110 troops to support vaccination sites. The first active-duty military personnel will arrive in California within the next 10 days, to begin operations around Feb. 15, said Andy Slavitt, senior adviser to the White House’s coronavirus response team. The service members, the majority of whom will be medical personnel, are expected to be stationed at five FEMA megasites, two of which are in Oakland and east Los Angeles.”

Tulsa World: Oklahoma paid a Tulsa bar owner $2.1 million to deliver N95 masks. Only 10,000 came, so the state is suing.

Tulsa World: Oklahoma paid a Tulsa bar owner $2.1 million to deliver N95 masks. Only 10,000 came, so the state is suing.. “In March, at the start of the pandemic, Oklahoma health officials turned four times to a Tulsa piano bar owner who was promising he could get N95 masks from China in large amounts and quickly. They ordered more than 2 million of the highly sought after masks from his brand new company, PPE Supplies LLC. On the second order, they even paid him half upfront — $2.125 million — after he promised delivery in 10 days. Now, the owner, Casey Bradford, is accused of being a liar.”

Washington Post: Smallest health providers face biggest problem finding protective gear amid coronavirus surge

Washington Post: Smallest health providers face biggest problem finding protective gear amid coronavirus surge. “Most U.S. hospitals and health systems have, over the pandemic’s nine months, stitched together systems and improvisations to acquire masks, gowns, gloves and other personal protective equipment. Yet many small health-care and social-service settings continue to suffer from shortages they expect to grow worse.”

Masks, nurses and stockpiles: Biden’s team missing key Covid-19 information (NBC News)

NBC News: Masks, nurses and stockpiles: Biden’s team missing key Covid-19 information. “President-elect Joe Biden’s administration will face a daunting task when he takes office: vaccinating more than 300 million people against the coronavirus as quickly and as safely as possible. But trying to get detailed information from the outgoing Trump administration has proven impossible, hampering the Biden team’s ability to begin planning, according to several health officials advising the incoming president’s team.”

Respirator 2.0: new n95-alternative introduces sensors for a better fit (EurekAlert)

EurekAlert: Respirator 2.0: new n95-alternative introduces sensors for a better fit. “Investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have been working to design a better, reusable respirator that could serve as an alternative to an N95 respirator. In the latest iteration of their work, they have introduced sensors to inform the user if the respirator is on properly and whether the filters are becoming saturated.”

MIT News: Innovative face masks and medical-grade gowns to combat Covid-19 and future pandemics

MIT News: Innovative face masks and medical-grade gowns to combat Covid-19 and future pandemics. “The Pandemic Response CoLab is a joint project by the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence (CCI), MIT Media Lab’s Community Biotechnology Initiative, and founding member MilliporeSigma, the life science business of Merck KGaA in Darmstadt, Germany. The Pandemic Response CoLab is an open, online collaboration platform that invites anyone, from individuals to groups, from communities to businesses, to develop actionable solutions for challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Bloomberg Law: U.S. Buying Hospital Gowns From Untested Makers for Covid Needs

Bloomberg Law: U.S. Buying Hospital Gowns From Untested Makers for Covid Needs. “Several U.S. companies that won almost half a billion dollars in government contracts to make hospital gowns appear to have too few workers and not enough factory space to complete the job when the awards were made, according to a Bloomberg Law analysis. Their selection calls into question how closely the Defense Department examined these untested company’s abilities to fulfill the contracts. However, the Defense Department stands by its review.”