With the coronavirus pandemic on the rise, US hospitals are running short of medical and healthcare supplies. The shortage of hospital supplies, such as protective masks, is making it difficult for healthcare practitioners to care for infected persons. In response to this problem, Mehmet Oz, television host, and heart surgeon warns Americans against buying and using protective masks.

He refers to it as the “patriotic duty” of Americans “to not use a mask” as there are not enough masks to go round. The protective masks and respirators are more effective in preventing the spread of the Covid-19, rather than catching it.

As it currently stands, the coronavirus pandemic has placed a lot of strain on the US healthcare system. This could overwhelm the available healthcare resources and threaten the nation’s efforts to curb the virus.

The New York Times reported on Thursday that a Minnesota based community clinic was on the verge of shutting down. The reason for its decision was because there were no enough protective masks to go round the medical and healthcare practitioners and the patients. As a result of that, the doctors had to wear “ill-fitting” masks. It was also reported that physicians at a Los Angeles emergency room had to wear expired masks, which could put them at risk of contracting the virus too.

This has stirred up much concern among people like Dr. Oz, who believes that “if the hospital system gets sick—either the doctors themselves or the hospital can’t keep up with the flow.” He says this is a “weak link” in society.

How bad could things get?

 According to Oz, at its worst infected patients would not be able to receive the required medical care due to lack of equipment or available hospital space. You can see this in Italy where the coronavirus death-toll jumped overnight as a result of a lack of healthcare equipment and available hospital space.

Hopefully, that wouldn’t be the case of the US, but it could result in that if no drastic measures are taken soon. 

Dr. Oz hasn’t been the only one appealing to US citizens to stop purchasing masks. Before Thursday, Jerome Adams, US Surgeon General, urged Americans to stop buying masks in late February. 

He tweeted on February 29, “Seriously, people—STOP BUYING MASKS!” 

Oz also, emphasized that the N95 masks were more useful to the healthcare practitioners. Unlike surgical masks, the N95 masks have better facial fittings and are more effective in preventing the users from breathing in smaller particles.

“The hospitals are under-supplied of masks… and the nurses and doctors can’t use enough of these N95 masks,” he said.

Contrary to what Oz’s opinion was, some physicians have come out to criticize him for promoting self-care and unscientific medical advice. They also asked that the Columbia University end its affiliation with Dr. Oz. However, he still retains his affiliation with Columbia University as the director of the Integrative Medicine Center.