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Healthcare Workers Are Stockpiling Protective Gear Now To Prepare For What May Be Ahead

UnityPoint Health EMS system director Dr. Ashley Huff, March 19, 2020.
Tim Shelley / WCBU
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UnityPoint Health EMS system director Dr. Ashley Huff, March 19, 2020.

The Illinois Health and Hospital Association is asking for donations of face masks, respirators, and other personal protective equipment to stockpile now for healthcare workers tackling COVID-19 cases. Dr. Ashley Huff is the emergency management services system director for UnityPoint Health. She said doctors are currently taking extra precautions to keep themselves healthy."We look at droplet precautions for PPEs [personal protective equipment]. So if a patient has an influenza-like illness, we're going to put on a gown, our gloves, a mask, and goggles," Huff said. "And that's to make sure that if a patient, you know, is coughing or there's droplets in the air that we don't get infected by them." Peoria City/County Health Department Administrator Monica Hendrickson said the requests are coming in "full-force." She said local emergency management agencies are working with federal and state agencies to procure supplies, but that might not be enough. "It is getting to the point where we are asking as much as we can around community partners that are closing down shops, such as dentists or someplace where they do elective procedures, to bring in the supplies to our first responders," Hendrickson said.

Health officials say conserving personal protective equipment is one of the reasons they're urging people to call their primary care provider to discuss their symptoms and get an initial assessment before heading straight to the emergency room.

Five people in the Tri-County area have tested positive for COVID-19. There are two reported in Woodford County and three in Peoria County since last Friday.

Copyright 2020 WCBU

Tim Shelley is the Assignment Editor and Digital Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.