Massachusetts Lawmakers Seek Update on Commonwealth’s Request for Personal Protective Equipment from Strategic National Stockpile

The following is a media release from Sen. Ed Markey and Sen Elizabeth Warren’s offices. Both were elected by voters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to serve the state in Washington DC in the US Senate. Both are Democrats.

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Washington, DC – United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA), along with Representatives Richard E. Neal (D-MA-01), James P. McGovern (D-MA-02), Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA-08), William Keating (D-MA-09), Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-MA-04), Katherine Clark (D-MA-05), Seth Moulton (D-MA-06), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-07) and Lori Trahan (D-MA-03), wrote to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requesting an update on the status of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s (MDPH) request for personal protective equipment from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).

“Health care providers in the Commonwealth have been working around the clock to meet the urgent demands of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency,” the lawmakers wrote. “We urge you to grant the request without delay.”

On March 5, 2020, MDPH requested protective equipment from the SNS to help them combat COVID-19 outbreaks in the state. Specifically, they requested 750,000 each of N95 Respirator Face Masks, Surgical Masks, Non-Sterile Gloves, Eye Protection, Powered Air Purifying Respirators, and Surgical Gowns.

However, according to state officials, the state has only received roughly 10% of the supplies they have requested.

Since the request was submitted, the Commonwealth has declared a state of emergency, and the number of confirmed cases has ballooned to over 200, with hundreds more under quarantine.

As these cases climb, Massachusetts hospitals, community health centers, and other facilities are facing or are imminently anticipating shortages of personal protective equipment needed to ensure that frontline workers do not risk infection or contribute to the spread of COVID-19, with some hospitals resorting to reusing N95 respirator masks in order to conserve their limited supplies. 

The lawmakers asked HHS to provide an update on MDPH’s request and asked the agency a series of questions regarding extra resources for states who are experiencing shortages of protective equipment.

“Protecting our frontline health care workers by providing personal protective equipment must be a top public health priority,” the lawmakers continued.

Senator Warren stressed the importance of getting health professionals these needed supplies earlier today:

Senator Warren: “I’m working hard along with others to push enough federal money out there so that our hospitals at least have the resources to be able to get the supplies they need, and to make sure that the CDC and other public health officials can do what they can. Commandeer resources, bring those resources in so that people have masks, so that people have protective gear. My focus and my concern is actually on supporting the scientists and the doctors. I’m very worried about the fact that our health care professionals are not fully protected, that they don’t have the protective gear that they need, because they’re putting their lives on the line. They’re the — they are our front lines, and when our nurses get sick, when our doctors get sick, when the other supporting health care professionals get sick, that has effects on all of us. So I think we need an intense focus on making sure they get what they need.”

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