Delegation Calls on HHS Secretary to Deliver Medical Equipment Needed to Fight COVID-19 in Maine
Washington, March 21, 2020
U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and Representatives ChelliePingree and Jared Golden wrote to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, urging him to quickly distribute personal protective equipment (PPE) to Maine.
Health care professionals rely on PPE such as masks, surgical gowns, and respirators to safely treat individuals with COVID-19. After Maine received a limited disbursement of PPE from the Strategic National Stockpile, however, Governor Janet Mills sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary Azar to request that the federal government expedite the release of PPE from the Strategic National Stockpile and push for “a steady and reliable supply” of testing materials as the outbreak intensifies. While Maine is continuing to pursue other sources of PPE, it has exhausted the options within its control and is relying on the federal government to meet this urgent need.
The letter by Maine’s Congressional Delegation supports Governor Mills’ request and calls on Secretary Azar to ensure a reliable delivery of PPE to states.
“As COVID-19 continues to rapidly spread in Maine and throughout the United States, health care professionals and public health officials are experiencing shortages of essential medical equipment,” the Maine Delegation wrote. “While we understand the inevitable strain on the supply chain, we are deeply concerned about the significant challenges that the State of Maine has identified in obtaining requested equipment and supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile.”
“The severe shortage of PPE and other medical equipment endangers health workers, reduces testing capacity, dampens service delivery, and weakens our overall coronavirus response across the United States,” the Delegation continued. “Now more than ever, we need confidence that resources from the SNS are available to states and that the Administration is working collaboratively with health care providers, businesses, and state leadership to identify available supplies – both in the federal stockpile and across the private sector.”
On Thursday, Maine’s Congressional Delegation and Governor Mills convened a conference call to discuss the State’s response to COVID-19 and the Congressional Delegation’s work in Congress to support the State’s efforts. One of the items that was discussed was the need for more PPE and testing supplies.