Treating coronavirus patients in one of the busiest emergency rooms in Manhattan, Dr. Jason Hill wore the same disposable respirator mask for up to four shifts in a row.
He’d take the mask home from Columbia University Medical Center, his coffee-flavored breath clinging to its fibers. Then he’d bake it in an oven to kill any viral hitchhikers. A half-hour at 140 degrees.
For months as the virus filled hospitals in New York and across the nation, doctors, nurses and other medical workers risked their lives in similar ways – sharing protective gear, reusing masks or going without – simply because there weren’t enough to go around.