The federal stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE) might be too low to supply nursing homes and other medical professionals with needed supplies just as coronavirus cases are surging in the United States, NBC News reports.
Citing internal administration documents, NBC reports the Strategic National Stockpile and the Federal Emergency Management Agency now has fewer than 900,000 gloves after it shipped out 82.7 million since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. And that number reflects only 30% of the amount requested.
"Currently, nearly 20% of nursing homes report to CDC [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] that they either do not have or have less than a one-week supply of PPE, and more than half of assisted living communities have less than a two-week supply of N-95 masks and gowns," Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living, said in a letter to governors Tuesday. "N-95 masks are still not available and were not included in the FEMA shipments to nursing homes."
Chaun Powell, with the healthcare consulting group Premier Inc., told NBC his firm is no longer confident federal inventories can meet rising demand.
"Our primary focus for our 4,000 hospitals and 175,000 non-acute members has shifted to conservation until we see additional output" from the private-sector he said.
But the White House coronavirus task force's chief supply-chain official, Adm. John Polowczyk, was more optimistic, telling NBC News the situation is "just not that dire."
"I'm not going to pretend to tell you that supply and demand are perfectly aligned again, because there is still some residual hunting and pecking for a few things," he said. "But supply and demand back orders are trending typically down, and we're fundamentally in a volume place differently than we were in, say, March and then very early April."
Polowczyk said orders for gloves should be filled by September, and states and hospitals have been able to get most of their supplies through the private marketplace and the Defense Logistics Agency. Some states and local officials told NBC they were, indeed, currently getting what the need.
"Things have meaningfully changed," said Santa Cruz County, Arizona, Supervisor Bruce Bracker. "In March we were looking for any [PPE] source, we were looking for any place to find this stuff and it was tough. Now we have a lot of suppliers who are saying, 'Hey, we have this and that.' In the meantime we've gotten enough supplies through the state."
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