OCEAN TOWNSHIP – Senator Vin Gopal joined Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey to call for pharmacies and other businesses to immediately halt all sales of specialized N95 protective masks to members of the public, and for all New Jersey residents to instead purchase more accessible cloth masks for personal protection.
“Our healthcare workers and first responders need N95 and KN95 masks,” said Gopal (D-Long Branch). “The general public should not be using them and buying them if they are not healthcare workers or first responders. Due to the shortage of protective equipment, we need to make sure our frontline workers are the first recipients of these masks. But if the ‘worried well’ are snapping then up instead, we’re handicapping our hospitals’ ability to care for the sick. That puts all of us at greater risk. A lot of families are looking for any means of protection they can get, but if you’re not a first responder or healthcare worker, your number-one means of protection should still be social distancing, proper handwashing practices, and staying at home.”
“A lot of folks are scared right now, and that’s understandable,” said Houghtaling (D-Neptune). “But at the end of the day, we’re not going to beat this virus with panic-buying and supply hoarding. Right now, hospitals across New Jersey are facing a critical shortage of personal protective equipment like N95 masks – and without them, we’re risking the health of thousands of doctors. If we want to keep ourselves and our families safe, our best shot is giving our healthcare workers the best chance they can have to treat sick patients without getting infected themselves.”
“A scarcity of N95 masks would leave our doctors, nurses, and first responders vulnerable on the front lines of this battle,” said Downey (D-Freehold). “If everyday New Jerseyans instead make use of alternatives like surgical masks and dental masks – which can still protect others from becoming infected in public places – we can save our hospitals from losing vital ground against this disease.”