Apr 9, 2020 - Health

U.S. nearly empties medical supplies stockpile to fight coronavirus

In this image, a woman wears a mask and gloves
The ICU of MedStar St. Mary's Hospital in Leonardtown, Maryland, April 8. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The federal government is in the process of deploying 90% of its stockpiled medical equipment to fight the coronavirus pandemic, Health and Human Services spokesperson Katie McKeogh told Axios Wednesday night.

Why it matters: These shipments aren't enough to meet current demands from states, who are bracing for staggered surges in hospital resource demand through May.

Driving the news: The House Oversight Committee published data on Wednesday showing what supplies the stockpile has sent to states so far — including 11 million N95 masks and over 7,000 ventilators, primarily to New York and other hot spots.

  • HHS announced its first contracts for ventilator production under the Defense Production Act on Wednesday.
  • The agency says 30,000 ventilators built by General Motors will be delivered to the national stockpile by the end of August, and 43,000 ventilators from Philips will be delivered by the end of December.
  • 2,500 of the ventilators from Philips are expected to be delivered to the stockpile by the end of May, and 6,132 from GM are expected to reach the stockpile by June 1.
  • 10% of the national stockpile will not be deployed and will instead be reserved "for critical needs of frontline healthcare workers serving in federal response efforts," McKeogh said.

Flashback: America's hospitals, doctors and nurses said in March there would "not be enough medical supplies, including ventilators, to respond to the projected COVID-­19 outbreak" without the intervention of the Defense Production Act — even with the use of the national stockpile.

  • Trump administration officials anonymously sounded the alarm in early April that America's emergency stockpile of personal protective equipment was running dangerously low.

What they're saying: "Now that the national stockpile has been depleted of critical equipment, it appears that the Administration is leaving states to fend for themselves, to scour the open market for these scarce supplies, and to compete with each other and federal agencies in a chaotic, free-for-all bidding war," House Oversight Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said in a press release on Wednesday.

Go deeper: The push to multiply limited medical supplies

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