Doctors, nurses warn shortage of protective gear endangers them

The U.S. has a stockpile of 13 million N-95 respirator masks but the government said up to a billion are likely needed.
3:48 | 03/18/20

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Transcript for Doctors, nurses warn shortage of protective gear endangers them
Meantime this evening, the long lines across the country for tests. And the reality check from doctors and E.R.S coast to one doctor saying he's guarding his own mask. Matt Gutman tonight on that part of the story. Reporter: Tonight, emergency room doctors and nurses warning that critical protective gear is running low and putting them in danger. What we need on the front lines is personal protective gear for my colleagues and myself. I've got my mask for today right here, and I'm guarding it with my life because it could be my life. Reporter: Steven Anderson is an E.R. Doctor in Auburn Washington. He says in 48 hours his hospital will run out of protective gear and masks. Other hospitals instituting severe rationing. I'm being told to wear my mask for a week. Reporter: And across the country, doctors and nurses getting sick. Emory university confirming they have workers who tested positive. San Francisco doctor rosny Daniel isolating himself after being infected. He attended a conference with hundreds of physicians near times square. Health care workers with underlying conditions feeling especially vulnerable. I have asthma even when I get even a common cold and flu, I am sometimes compromised. Reporter: The U.S. Has a stockpile of 13 million n-95 respirator masks. But the federal government has said up to a billion might be needed over the next six months. At Putney health system in Georgia, they ran through six months of protective gear in seven days. So volunteers are sewing covers for masks using surgical sheets. We have a team of volunteers, coming from out of town. Reporter: But some critical supplies present a bigger challenge. Ventilators are already in short supply. Nationwide there are roughly 170,000 but some estimates expect a demand of nearly 1 million. The hospital up the street from me is out of ventilators at the moment. Reporter: Kyle Abernathy is recovering from an infection, and is now watching his wife fight for her life, and needing a ventilator. She was, at one point, requiring 100% oxygen through the ventilator. Now she's down to 50%. Reporter: While many are struggling to overcome the virus, others have been able to recover in a matter of days. ABC's Kaylee Hartung contracted covid-19 while reporting from hard-hit Washington state. When she got home, she started feeling symptoms including a low-grade fever. I had a headache, I was congested, body aches. I'm feeling so much better. It really knocked me off my feet for a day. Really encouraging to see Kaylee there. Earlier this week, she was talking about having felt that fever, the aches and pains for about 24 hours. Then started to feel better. I know she was moving in her apartment, encouraging. Then the test came back positive. That's one more portrait of how the virus affects people in different ways. Reporter: And she had started feeling better by the time she got the result. It affects people in different ways. She never had a cough. But I spoke to her tonight, she said she's taking the 14-day isolation very seriously. And a reminder, take social distancing seriously, even if you're young. If you begin to start to feel symptoms, distance yourself before, because it may be too late. Matt, thank you. And a breaking headline from the New York stock exchange

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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