Federal government empties stockpile of personal protective equipment

Federal government empties stockpile of personal protection equipment
Posted at 8:50 PM, Apr 01, 2020

President Donald Trump confirmed a Washington Post report on Wednesday that the United States has nearly depleted its stockpile of personal protective equipment in the battle against the spread of COVID-19.

The equipment includes surgical masks, gloves, hospital gowns, and other equipment needed to protect healthcare workers.

As of Monday, the government had delivered 11.6 million N95 respirators, 26 million surgical masks, 52 million face shields, 43 million surgical gowns, 22 million gloves, and 8,100 ventilators.

But the government's supply is now mostly in the hands of states and hospitals.

"We are sending it directly to hospitals," Trump said. "We don't want to send it to the stockpiles because then we have to take it. One of the things, and again, we ask the states to do this as much as possible. Many of the states have people, whether it's that or clothing, they make clothing, lots of clothing. Said see if you can get it directly from those manufacturers. Make a deal."

Even with supplies from the federal government, many states say they don't have enough personal protective equipment to supply healthcare workers with what they need.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that much of the equipment they need comes from China, which is just coming out of the grips of the spread of COVID-19.

"China is the main manufacturer for all these things. It all comes back to China," Cuomo said. "Where do we get the masks? China. Where do we get the gowns? China. Where do we get the gloves? China. Where do we get the ventilators? China. I mean its, I don't know how we got into this position. And then China is selling to the world, literally. So a state, and every governor will tell you this, they're trying to buy, I'm trying to buy, I'm calling everyone I know. But it all comes back to China."

But there is some hope that equipment can be reused. On Sunday, the FDA gave approval to Battelle to sanitize 160,000 masks a day to be reused. Battelle says that masks can be reused up to 20 times before they are no longer effective.