Even among the surreal sights of an intensive care unit crowded with Covid-19 patients, Dr. Elaine Fajardo’s mask stands out.
Jet-black silicone with magenta-capped filters protruding from both sides, it is more commonly the protection of choice at construction sites and industrial plants. But for Dr. Fajardo, it has been a precious and potentially lifesaving medical resource.
“I think these really saved us from a crisis,” said Dr. Fajardo, a pulmonary and critical care physician at the Yale New Haven Hospital in Connecticut.
In the past, Dr. Fajardo, like most health care workers, relied on disposable N95 masks, which are in critically short supply globally because of the coronavirus pandemic. Now she is the beneficiary of a prescient decision: As the virus raged in China, Yale hospital administrators bought about 1,200 of the reusable silicone masks, known as elastomeric respirators, and gave them to doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists starting