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R.I. emergency doctor joins Surgeon General’s call for ‘influencers’ to help stop the spread of coronavirus

Dr. Megan L. Ranney, an emergency room physician at Rhode Island Hospital.Handout/Lifespan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Who is more likely to convince young people that it’s cool to stay home during a pandemic: the Surgeon General or Kylie Jenner?

Surgeon General Jerome Adams is trying both, telling hosts of Good Morning America on Thursday that the “Keeping Up With Kardashians” star and other social-media influencers could help their fans understand that the spread of coronavirus is serious and deadly.

And it didn’t take long for a Rhode Island emergency physician to offer Jenner, Selena Gomez, and other stars help putting out the word -- and use their influence to pressure the federal government to provide them with protective medical equipment.


“Please reach out to me & my colleagues if u want help w/content!” tweeted Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency physician at Rhode Island Hospital and The Miriam Hospital.

She and other healthcare workers are blanketing social media with the hashtag #GetMePPE, which stands for personal protective equipment, to demand more face masks, gloves, and other medical supplies to protect them from the coronavirus.

Ranney and other public health experts have been trying to get the word out about the seriousness of the pandemic and how government should respond. Last week, they published a series of recommendations in Health Affairs about ways to protect healthcare workers, ensure equity in patient care, bolster the healthcare delivery system, preserve economic stability for people affected by coronavirus, and promote research.

“The lack of preparation on the national level is hurting hospitals that are well prepared,” Ranney told the Globe Wednesday. “My hospital has been thinking about this since the first report in Wuhan in December, but the national response has been so inefficient, we can’t prepare better -- because we can’t get the supplies we need.”

Amanda Milkovits can be reached at amanda.milkovits@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @AmandaMilkovits.