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Italian hospital says it's turning scuba masks into ventilators

CBS News logo CBS News 3/28/2020 Chris Livesay
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The coronavirus has claimed nearly 1,000 lives in Italy in the past 24 hours. With ventilators running low, a desperate hospital in the northern part of the country is trying something new: modified scuba masks. 

Doctors at the Maggiore Hospital in Parma are using a 3D printer to modify the masks so they connect to oxygen. It's a quick fix Dr. Franceso Minardi likens to wartime triage.

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"You can turn a scuba mask into a ventilator?" asked CBS News.

"Yes," Minardi said. "We started yesterday."

CBS News was given rare access inside the hospital's ICU unit. Before entering, the team suited up in protective gear.

The virus hasn't been easy on the nation's hospital system. So far, more than 40 doctors in the country have died of the virus. Sandra Rossi, the head of this ICU, said one of the fallen was a doctor and friend.

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"He was fantastic and we are still crying," Rossi said.

Rossi offered a message for her fellow doctors in the U.S.: "Hurry up, hurry up." 

When asked if she thought America was ready for what she's seeing in Italy, Rossi said, "If I have to be honest, no." 

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