The unique needs of healthcare workers are taking center stage as the battle against the coronavirus intensifies.

A recent New York Times article highlights the unique equipment and materials necessary to keep doctors, nurses, and other health specialists themselves healthy and able to treat the growing number of cases of COVID19 across the country.

“We need to think about what the right thing is for patients, but also for our caregivers to make sure they’re not exposed,” Amy Compton-Phillips, chief clinical officer at the Providence St. Joseph Health in Washington State, told the Times.

Caregivers are required to wear gowns, gloves, and goggles, as well as proscribed versions of antibacterial headwear including N95 respirators, which fit tightly around the nose and mouth; powered air purifying respirators, which cover the entire head; and/or, in the face of dwindling supplies, standard medical masks. But as more is learned about how the virus spreads, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) continue to update and alter protective equipment recommendations, leaving workers scrambling to keep pace.

And while, according to the Times, “[e]xperts say surgical masks and respirators are not effective for protecting the general public from Covid-19, [they] are crucial for health care workers who are in close contact with infected patients.”

“If nurses and health care workers aren’t protected, that means patients and the public are not protected,” said Bonnie Castillo, a registered nurse and executive director of National Nurses United, a union that represents about 150,000 nurses across the country. “Now is not the time to be weakening our standards and protections, or cutting corners,” she said.

Read more about the needs of healthcare workers during the coronavirus outbreak here.