The FDA issued guidance today recommending that healthcare personnel and facilities cease the reuse of disposable masks.
According to the recommendations, healthcare personnel and facilities should transition away from crisis capacity strategies like decontaminating or bioburden reducing disposable respirators for reuse.
The CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) approved an increased domestic supply of new respirators and made them available to facilitate the transition. Officials at FDA and CDC both believe there is an adequate supply of respirators, leaving no need to reuse them.
Decontaminated respirators and those which have undergone bioburden reduction should only be used when there are insufficient supplies of new filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) or the user is unable to obtain any new respirators. FDA is encouraging healthcare personnel to transition away from decontaminating N95 masks and other FFRs and increase the inventory of respirators.
The FDA said it is working closely with the CDC/NIOSH and Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) to make critical respiratory protection available to those who need it amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although the FDA and CDC believe there is an adequate supply of respirators to transition away from using decontamination and bioburden reduction systems successfully, the FDA is not revoking emergency use authorizations for those systems in case there are insufficient FFR supplies as a result of the pandemic. Still, such use of respirators should be limited to when no others are available.