As health providers’ need for medical gear rises, some construction companies step up to help

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Already medical professionals have fallen ill and even died treating the coronavirus.

That’s why there’s a clamor for more gowns, masks and gloves to protect those on the front lines.

But those items are becoming harder and harder to find.

“With the flu and RSV season, we have seen local hospitals already at max capacity, and that’s before coronavirus has even entered the area,” Dr. Erica Carney, Kansas City’s medical director, told city leaders.  

Local hospitals tell FOX4 they have an “adequate supply” of protective gear in stock, but experts worry that stock could be quickly depleted should the coronavirus reach a dramatic peak.

With that in mind, on Tuesday, President Donald Trump asked construction companies and other non-emergency responders who use protective equipment to donate those items to first responders.

Gordon Lansford, president of JE Dunn Construction, said his company has already started reviewing its inventory, which included the high-in-demand N-95 respirator. Lansford said his company uses the mask when drilling or grinding to prevent plastic or metal fragments from being inhaled.

“I know we do have some, and they will be given away,” said Lansford, who has also directed his company to contact local hospitals and see exactly what their needs are.

Just last week, Kansas City, Kansas, firefighters complained to FOX4 that their protective gear was inadequate for dealing with coronavirus cases.

“I’m not sure we have the access and the resources that we need at this time,” said JJ Simna with the firefighters’ union.

At least five KCK firefighters were quarantined after responding to a cardiac call. It was later determined that the patient died from coronavirus, Kansas’ first and only fatality so far.

The problem was also being addressed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC is working on a system that would track hospital inventory across the United States so that it can be shared with those in need.

Historically, hospitals have been reluctant to share such information with the CDC, but the coronavirus is changing that.

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