Experts blame the supply chain and our national failure to prepare.April 14, 2020, 2:59 PM4 min read Despite years of public health experts warning that the United States was not prepared to handle a respiratory virus pandemic, when COVID-19 spread in the U.S., doctors and nurses found themselves without enough personal protection equipment, or PPE, to treat patients safely. Part of the problem, experts say, is the supply chain. The U.S. has been making fewer masks, gowns and gloves domestically, and instead relied on importing those items from other countries. During normal times, that’s not an issue. But since the COVID-19 outbreak began in Wuhan and China manufactures roughly 50% of masks and respirators around the world, the country needed masks at home first. What to know about Coronavirus: How it started and how to protect yourself: Coronavirus explained What to do if you have symptoms: Coronavirus symptomsTracking the spread in the US and Worldwide: Coronavirus map Additionally, many of the workers who staffed PPE factories in China couldn’t go to their jobs during the outbreak. As the virus spread around the world and demand for PPE ramped up, China was both exporting fewer masks and making fewer masks, which

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