Nursing homes, small physician offices and rural clinics are being left behind in the rush for N95 masks and other protective gear, exposing some of the country’s most vulnerable populations and their caregivers to COVID-19 while larger, wealthier health care facilities build equipment stockpiles.Take Rhonda Bergeron, who owns three health clinics in rural southern Louisiana. She said she’s been desperate for personal protective equipment since her clinics became COVID testing sites. Her plight didn’t impress national suppliers puzzled by her lack of buying history when she asked for 500 gowns. And one supply company allows her only one box of 200 gloves per 30 days for her three clinics. Right now, she doesn’t have any large gloves on-site.“So in the midst of the whole world shutting down, you can’t get PPE to cover your own employees,” she said. “They’re refilling stuff to larger corporations when realistically we are truly the front line here.”Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak More than eight months into the pandemic, health care leaders are again calling for a coordinated national strategy to distribute personal protective equipment to protect health care workers and their patients as a new wave of disease wells up across most of


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