Mar 22, 2020 - Health

Illinois governor: States are "competing against each other" for medical supplies

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that inaction by the federal government has forced state governments to compete “against each other” for coronavirus supplies.

Why it matters: Hospitals around the United States are running out of medical equipment, including masks, gowns, gloves and ventilators — all of which are necessary both to protect health care workers and to treat patients suffering from the coronavirus, the Wall Street Journal reports.

  • As of Sunday morning, the U.S. has reported 26,747 cases of the virus, with 12,315 in New York alone, according to Johns Hopkins University. Illinois has reported 753 cases.

What they're saying:

"We need millions of masks and hundreds of thousands of gowns and gloves and the rest. And, unfortunately, we're getting still just a fraction of that. So, we're out on the open market competing for these items that we so badly need. And we're succeeding in some ways, but we still need more."
"We're all competing against each other. This should have been a coordinated effort by the federal government, and the National Defense Authorization that the president has to essentially push this manufacturing really hasn't gone into effect in any way. ... It's a Wild West out there. And, indeed, we are overpaying, I would say, for [personal protection equipment] because of that competition."
— J.B. Pritzker

President Trump responded to Pritzker's interview on Sunday, tweeting that governors, along with "fake news" CNN and NBC, "shouldn’t be blaming the Federal Government for their own shortcomings. We are there to back you up should you fail, and always will be!""

The big picture: The American Hospital Association, American Medical Association and American Nurses Association urged President Trump last week to authorize the Defense Production Act to ramp up the country's production of medical masks, gowns and other items crucial for health care workers.

  • They warned that hospitals will not have enough equipment to fight the outbreak, even with "an infusion of supplies from the strategic stockpile and other federal resources."
  • Officials on the White House coronavirus task force could not say when doctors and nurses across the country can expect to receive more medical supplies.
  • U.S. firms, including Apple, General Motors and Tesla, have announced that they plan to start producing some supplies like masks and ventilators.

Go deeper: Even the best coronavirus scenario is terrible

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Trump: Some hospitals are hoarding ventilators

President Trump during his coronavirus briefing at the White House on Sunday. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

President Trump claimed during a briefing at the White House on Sunday that some hospitals and health care workers were "hoarding equipment, including ventilators" and suggested reporters and states look into the increased demand for masks.

Details: Trump's comments drew criticism from Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and the Greater New York Hospital Association, which said health care workers "deserve better than their president suggesting that PPE is 'going out the back door' of New York hospitals," in reference to Trump singling out an unnamed state hospital to question why they were using so many masks.

Go deeperArrowMar 30, 2020 - Health

Inside the start of the great virus airlift

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A plane from Shanghai arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York Sunday morning carrying an extraordinary load: 12 million gloves, 130,000 N95 masks, 1.7 million surgical masks, 50,000 gowns, 130,000 hand sanitizer units, and 36,000 thermometers.

Why it matters: The flight is the start of what might end up being the largest government-led airlift of emergency medical supplies into the United States.

Go deeperArrowMar 29, 2020 - Health

Fixing America's broken coronavirus supply chain

Polowczyk speaks at a coronavirus briefing at the White House, March 23. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The senior Navy officer now in charge of fixing America's coronavirus supply chain is trying to fill the most urgent needs: ventilators and personal protective gear. But barely a week into his role at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, he's still trying to establish what's in the pipeline and where it is.

Driving the news: "Today, I, as leader of FEMA's supply chain task force, am blind to where all the product is," Rear Adm. John Polowczyk tells Axios.

Go deeperArrowMar 29, 2020 - Health