ENA Statement on Emergency Nurse Protection During COVID-19 Pandemic

March 28, 2020 COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment PPE


SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (March 27, 2020) – The Emergency Nurses Association on Friday released the following statement in regards to the availability and use of personal protective equipment by emergency nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

ENA believes emergency nurses and other health care workers (HCWs) providing direct care for suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients should be provided the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) necessary to safely care for these patients, including PPE that meets National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) standards. ENA also believes recommendations for PPE should be evidence-based and not downgraded based on supply chain. ENA supports emergency nurses and other HCWs in obtaining and using self-supplied PPE that meets NIOSH standards when, in their professional opinion, hospital-supplied PPE supplies are inadequate.

ENA strongly cautions against use of homemade or cloth masks by HCWs in this pandemic. Makeshift or homemade PPE such as bandanas, scarves, and cloth masks are not appropriate PPE as there is no evidence they will adequately protect HCWs. Using homemade PPE also puts HCWs at higher risk for exposure due to poor fit and need for frequent adjustments. Only as a last resort, after all options for obtaining appropriate respiratory protection have been exhausted--including working with manufacturers, state and local health departments, other local health care providers, and community resources--should homemade masks be used, in combination with a face shield that covers the entire front (that extends to the chin or below) and sides of the face.


CDC: Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with Suspected or Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Healthcare Settings

CDC: Checklist for Healthcare Facilities: Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of N95 Respirators during the COVID-19 Response

WHO: Advice on the use of masks in the community, during home care and in health care settings in the context of the novel coronavirus outbreak

BMJ: A cluster randomised trial of cloth masks compared with medical masks in healthcare workers

The Emergency Nurses Association is the premier professional nursing association dedicated to defining the future of emergency nursing through advocacy, education, research, innovation, and leadership. Founded in 1970, ENA has proven to be an indispensable resource to the global emergency nursing community. With 50,000 members worldwide, ENA advocates for patient safety, develops industry-leading practice standards and guidelines and guides emergency health care public policy. ENA members have expertise in triage, patient care, disaster preparedness, and all aspects of emergency care. Additional information is available at www.ena.org.

ENA Media Contact

Dan Campana

Director of Communications