This crisis is different from anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes. It’s going to take a sustained response over many months to slow the spread of the coronavirus, save lives, and make sure people can get back on their feet.
During this time, I am in constant communication with Governor DeWine, Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton, and other leaders across Ohio, to talk about what we can do to support them.
One thing that comes up over and over on these calls is the shortage of Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE – equipment like N95 face masks, gloves, and gowns – and other critical medical equipment, like respirators. President Trump’s denial of the reality of this crisis and continued delays have put us severely behind in getting the supplies our health care professionals need to save lives and stop the spread of this virus.
We know that keeping up with demand for this equipment is going to make a huge difference in how well our hospitals are able to respond to this crisis. That’s why I released a plan to immediately mobilize American manufacturers to eliminate supply shortages, and help us fight this virus.
In the plan, I outlined executive actions the administration should take immediately, and I sent a letter to the president with those requests.
First, the administration must quickly distribute any military stockpiles of PPE, medical devices, and health care supplies. No health care worker should have to ration masks or gowns while the protection they need sits in government storage. Second, the administration must establish a hotline and public database, so we can better coordinate what is being produced and what supplies are needed, in what locations. We also need to get funding to manufacturers to ramp up production, and the government needs to provide purchase guarantees and delivery assistance.
Given the severe lack of PPE across the county, President Trump should have long ago used the Defense Production Act – known as the DPA – to provide funding to manufacturers to help them scale up production of testing kits, PPE, and other key supplies. So far, the president has not taken the decisive action we need. Congress just passed additional funding for the DPA – the president needs to stop wasting time and use it.
We know our country has the workers, the expertise, and the resources to fight this pandemic. We must immediately mobilize America’s vast manufacturing capacity to rise to this challenge.