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Reusable respirators a potential alternative for protecting health care workers from COVID-19

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The chronic shortage of disposable N95 respirator masks is a serious concern for front line health care workers involved in care of COVID-19 patients. A recent study published in JAMA determined that a reusable alternative to the N95 mask is just as effective and providers can securely fit the masks just as quickly.

Researchers found that time to achieve a secure fit with reusable elastomeric half-mask respirators (EHMRs) was not significantly different than with single use N95 respirators.

Colleen Kraft, MD, associate chief medical officer at Emory University Hospital, is the second author of the study, which was published in JAMA on March 25.  “The fact that health care providers can be rapidly fit tested and trained to use the reusable EHMR, will help address the current shortage of N95 respirators,” says Kraft.

Kraft is also an associate professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases, associate professor in the Department of Pathology and the associate medical director for Emory’s Serious Communicable Diseases Program. Erik Brownsword, MPP, and Morgan Lane, MPH, in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Emory University School of Medicine were co-authors.

Kraft also worked with colleagues at the University of Texas on this project, which is funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Read the full article in JAMA.

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