Coronavirus: Thermometers and hospital equipment among latest shortages

Just as America reopens, one essential tool is running out: thermometers.

Marc Blitstein, the CEO of American Diagnostic, a major maker, says demand for non-contact devices is up 900%.

Suppliers can't always fill orders.

"Some of them are made in the US, but they get components from all over the world, including China. And we estimated that about 50% of the thermometers that we purchase are made in China," says Cindy Juhas, chief strategic officer for CME Corp., one of the nation's biggest medical equipment suppliers.

Juhas's company stocks 2 million items from 2,000 makers.

Since March, she and CME have outfitted everything from the Javits Center field hospital in New York City to intensive care units at hospitals across the country.

But when Chinese factories closed due to the pandemic, the biggest source was cut off.

Closing the Mexican border cut off another source.
Putting any big order together has been a patchwork, getting a few supplies here, and more there.

Right now, anything in a hospital room is scarce - IV poles, vital signs monitors, blood oxygen monitors - even the wheels on stretchers.

Filling an order takes multiple sources and time.

"So we might call the manufacturer today and they might say, 'Oh, it's shipping, four weeks from now.' We tell the customer, then four weeks go by, and they still don't come," says Juhas.

For employers, schools, and sports to reopen, daily temperature checks will be a must.

But Juhas says for now, customers will have to wait, with most thermometers are on backorder.


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