Apr 9, 2020 - Health

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

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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Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators outside of the White House on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued Tuesday across the U.S. for the eighth consecutive day — prompting a federal response from the National Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection.

The latest: Protesters were still out en masse even as curfews set in Washington, D.C., and New York City. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) slammed the New York Police Department late Tuesday following reports of police kettling in protesters on Manhattan Bridge.

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Election official at a polling place at McKinley Technology High School in Washington, D.C. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In the midst of a global pandemic and national protests over the death of George Floyd, eight states and the District of Columbia held primary elections on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, needs to win 425 of the 479 delegates up for grabs in order to officially clinch the nomination. There are a number of key down-ballot races throughout the country as well, including a primary in Iowa that could determine the fate of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa).

Iowa Rep. Steve King defeated in GOP primary

Rep. Steve King. Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

State Sen. Randy Feenstra defeated incumbent Rep. Steve King in Tuesday's Republican primary for Iowa's 4th congressional district, according to the Cook Political Report.

Why it matters: King's history of racist remarks has made him one of the most controversial politicians in the country and a pariah within the Republican Party.