Insights from FindTheMasks-US Data

April 21, 2020
FindTheMasks Team ([email protected])

C. Alzona, S. Ashlock, C. Bartram, I. Baker, S. Bhadra, L. Bolling, N. Burt, Z. Cariaso, C. Chang, J. Chion, L. Cho, M. Cohen, M. Collins, S. Crayne, J. Chubak, V. Dalal, L. Dela Paz, J. Detwiler, V. Dzhabarov, D. Gaughan, E. Mandala, M. Faeldog, S. Fenton, M. Ferris, G. Gupta, C. Hagedorn*, R. Hubbard, Jaclyn, J. Hardie, E. Hirao, B. Iritani, P. Jayaram, A. Katherine, S. Kar, S. Kelleher, B. Kriss, A. Lainoff, E. Lee, J. Lee, C. Liou, J. Milner, P. Nelson, S. Nelson, J. Noordhoek, N. Orndorff, K. Parola , N. Pitaro, J. Popkin, R. Popkin, E. Przemieniecki, F. Querdasi, S. Van Rafelghem, T. Ramirez, M. Robin, G. Roche, R. Rodrigues, S. Rodriguez, J. Roesch, C. Sadowski, A. Saurin, M. Scharlock, S. Sekhri, S. Semilla, J. Sencil, R. Shah, D. Sharps, E. Shaw, K. Sitaram, I. Smith, K. Spitznagel, M. Turner, D. Tuzlak, G. Tyler, G. Wallace, P. Wartko, C. Wiseman, A. Wong, Y. Wong, L. Yang, T. Ye, and B. Zhou
(bold: data-moderators or analysis specialists, *: corresponding author)

Since March 19, FindTheMasks.com has aggregated and curated drop-off information for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers across the United States and around the world ( Canada, the EU, Switzerland, and India). This work is in partnership with many groups, including ProjectN95 and GetUsPPE.org. Our mission is to provide up-to-date maps of PPE need. Our curated US data are freely available in json and CSV formats, with similar files for other countries.

This is a quick look into our 3,800+ entry United States dataset. We want to share some simple inferences we have made so far. This document is for both the curious reader and those analysts who use our data.


FindTheMasks Data

Each time a potential recipient fills in our form, their information appears as a new row in our database. Human moderators check it for clarity and accuracy. We remove duplicate entries and update or take-down entries at the request of recipients. This process favors speed and accuracy in merging entries over maintaining the provenance of individual entries. We store original copies of form-entry data, but the analysis presented today uses our curated dataset.

There are systematic uncertainties and biases that may affect conclusions one might draw from these data. The mix of organizations that submit to us has changed and diversified over time. What began with phone-calls to hospitals now sees requests from public health organizations, some of the finest research hospitals in the country, home healthcare organizations, travel nurses, emergency medical services, clinics in jails, funeral homes, services that wash the linen from hospitals with COVID-19 patients, and beyond.


Plot of approved entries over time. Hundreds per day from March 24-April 8, tens/day until April 13, ~20/day afterward

Figure 1: FindTheMasks entries over time. Explosive growth in the first few days forced us to adapt and grow our team to handle the traffic. New-submission traffic dropped sharply on April 8, when a partner redirected submission traffic to a non-public repository to better faciliate supply-side matching. The partner added a link to FTM on their intake page on April 13, restoring some traffic.

As FindTheMasks lists many non-hospital institutions (outpatient clinics, senior care, home-care, skilled nursing facilities, mental health centers, homes for the disabled, and more), it is important to understand our changing mix of hospital and non-hospital institutions.


Plot of the hospital-fraction of FTM data. Fluctuates around 35% until April 8. Newer entries may be lower.

Figure 2: In the earliest days, our recipients were primarily hospitals. On March 25, we began asking recipients to categorize their organization, plotted above. As our traffic flow changes, and hospitals secure supply chains for PPE, we expect to see even more non-hospital entries. Days with fewer than ten new entries are excluded from our analysis.



How are America’s PPE needs changing over time?


PPE Needs

As the number of entries each day we receive varies greatly, it is hard to see trends in the daily counts of PPE requests alone. Instead, we plot the percentage of institutions that request each kind of PPE each day. Remember that only institutions/health-care workers that need PPE have submitted donation requests to us. If an institution is fully-stocked, we will not see them. That said, only 51 of the ~5,000 contacts we have received were removal requests, most of the excess beyond 3,800 have been updates and duplicate entries to entries already present in our database. From our perspective, we believe it is a fair assumption that most healthcare institutions in the United States are starved for PPE.

When you see in the plots below a “small” number like 25% for 3-D-printed face shields, it means that one in four of our recipients wants homemade masks. Multiplied by our 3,800 recipients, that is about a thousand institutions. Odds are very good that you can find someone near you, whether they are on our list or not, who will be intensely grateful for every kind of PPE you might have.

For experts: The errorbars in these plots are computed using 1-σ population-proportion uncertainties ( z*=1 in the Wikipedia notation).


Plots expressed needs for FTM recipients. N95=90%,
             Surgical Masks=80%, Homemade masks = 20-40%, Gloves = 60%,
             Gowns=80%. Hand Sanitizer = 70%, Wipes = 70%, Thermometers = 40%,
             Booties = 40%, Face Shield = 70%, 3D/maker shields = 30%

Figure 3: FindTheMasks recipient’s PPE needs over time. Some of these trends are likely to be due to our changing mix of recipient-types. There are subtle trends in these data, but the overarching message is that the PPE needs of institutions making PPE requests are almost unchanged over time. There is still a huge PPE shortage.

In the last week, we have seen an increase in the proportion of institutions requesting home-made masks, sanitizer, wipes, and gloves. There are weak downward trends in requests for N95 masks and surgical masks. We do not yet know if this is due to a change in our institutional mix or statistical fluctuation. We do not believe it is because demand for N95s has been substantially addressed.


That so many institutions are now accepting home-made facemasks and maker-made PPE is a testament to both the gravity of the epidemic and the remarkable grassroots contributions of citizens worldwide.


Significant Shortages

In the needs plotted above, our recipients express the many things they need. In many cases there are shortages of most PPE, so they select most of the checkboxes on the form. On March 25, we began asking our recipients to tell us, in free text, about their most significant shortages. These data are not found in our public releases, as we have promised to keep them private. Nevertheless, we can tell you about them in aggregate.


Plots of PPE Shortages. Most extreme are N95, masks, and gowns

Figure 4: The most-significant shortages expressed by FindTheMasks recipients. In addition to masks, gowns/coveralls/bunny-suits are in short supply in about 40% of our recipient’s institutions.


The story at hand is a simple one: our healthcare workers need PPE of all kinds. The most-desperate needs among our recipients are N95 masks, masks of all kinds, and gowns. Some recipients are completely out of at least one of the above and are treating patients without protection.


How can you help?


If you have PPE to donate:

Visit https://findthemasks.com/ and find an institution that can use your help! Our map and helpful filters can help you find an institution in need quickly. If you have more than a few hundred items of PPE, please contact our partners at projectN95.org and getusppe.org.


If you need PPE:

Please fill in our form! We will add you to the map as quickly as we can. Institutions should register with our partners at projectN95.org and getusppe.org, too.


Share #findthemasks:

Share this post, or findthemasks.com, using #findthemasks! If you donate PPE or receive PPE from a findthemasks donor, please post to social media with the hashtag #findthemasksdonation so that we can better understand how donations are flowing to recipients.


Thank you so much for your support. If you have PPE, there are thousands of institutions that need it. Right now.


Support

We are very grateful for pro-level support from Smartling, Google Maps, and Slack. Jotform, Airtable, and SmartyStreets have made contributions to improvements that are under development.

We could not have done any of this work without volunteer support from a team of 80+ volunteers who have contributed time and lost a lot of sleep to make FindTheMasks a reality.


Our hearts are with those on the front lines. There are thousands more volunteers like us doing our very best to help you.