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Published Online: 22 April 2022

Estimated N95 Respirator Needs for Nonhealthcare Essential Workers in the United States During Communicable Respiratory Infectious Disease Pandemics

Publication: Health security
Volume 20, Issue Number 2

Abstract

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for N95 respirators far exceeded the supply, leading to widespread shortages. Initially, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not recommend N95 respirators in nonhealthcare settings, in order to reserve them for healthcare workers. As N95s became more available, the recommendations were updated in May 2021 to include N95 respirators for nonhealthcare settings. In this study, we estimated the numbers of N95s needed for nonhealthcare essential workers in the United States. This information is valuable for crisis preparedness and planning for future large-scale communicable respiratory infectious disease epidemics or pandemics. We adapted a spreadsheet-based tool originally built to estimate the potential demand for N95 respirators during an influenza pandemic. We defined nonhealthcare essential occupations according to the 2020 US Department of Homeland Security guidance and used US Bureau of Labor Statistics employment numbers and Occupational Information Network data as model parameters. We modeled minimum, intermediate, and maximum N95 provision scenarios (as 1, 2, and 5 N95 respirators, respectively) per week per worker, for pandemic durations of 15 and 40 weeks. For 85.15 million nonhealthcare essential workers during a 15-week pandemic, an estimated 1.3 billion N95 respirators would be needed under minimum provision scenarios, 2.6 billion for intermediate provision, and 6.4 billion for maximum provision. During a 40-week pandemic, these estimates increased to 3.4 billion, 6.8 billion, and 17 billion. Public health authorities and policymakers can use these estimates when considering workplace respirator-wearing practices, including prioritization of allocation, for nonhealthcare essential workers. Our novel spreadsheet-based tool can also be used to quickly generate estimates of other preparedness and response equipment.

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Information & Authors

Information

Published In

cover image Health Security
Health security
Volume 20Issue Number 2March/April 2022
Pages: 127 - 136
PubMed: 35108104

History

Published online: 22 April 2022
Published in print: March/April 2022
Published ahead of print: 1 February 2022
Accepted: 13 December 2021
Revision received: 3 December 2021
Received: 24 September 2021

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    Authors

    Affiliations

    Ethan D. Fechter-Leggett [email protected]
    Ethan D. Fechter-Leggett, DVM, MPVM, is a Lead Research Epidemiologist, Respiratory Health Division, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Morgantown, WV.
    Kathleen B. Fedan
    Kathleen B. Fedan is a Statistician, Respiratory Health Division, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Morgantown, WV.
    Jean M. Cox-Ganser
    Jean M. Cox-Ganser, PhD, is Associate Director for Science, Respiratory Health Division, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Morgantown, WV.
    Martin I. Meltzer
    Martin I. Meltzer, PhD, MSc, is a Senior Health Economist, Division of Preparedness and Emerging Infections, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, CDC, Atlanta, GA.
    Bishwa B. Adhikari
    Bishwa B. Adhikari, PhD, is a Senior Economist, Division of Preparedness and Emerging Infections, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, CDC, Atlanta, GA.
    Chad H. Dowell
    Chad H. Dowell, MS, CIH, is Deputy Associate Director for Emergency Preparedness and Response, NIOSH, CDC, Atlanta, GA.

    Notes

    The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    Address correspondence to: Ethan D. Fechter-Leggett, DVM, MPVM, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1000 Frederick Lane, Morgantown, WV 26508. [email protected]

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