Menendez, Pascrell Lead Delegation Call for More Urgent Medical Supplies from Fed Gov’t to Combat COVID-19

Menendez, Pascrell Lead Delegation Call for More Urgent Medical Supplies from Fed Gov’t to Combat COVID-19

NJ frontline health workers need more personal protective gear, respirators, ventilators to treat patients

 

NEWARK, N.J. – Describing the dire, growing need at New Jersey hospitals, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee that sets national health policy, and Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (N.J.-09) today renewed the Congressional delegation’s request for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to deliver urgent medical supplies, including personal protective gear, to assist frontline health care workers in their response.  To date, New Jersey has only received a fraction of what the state needs from the federal government.

 “Hospitals and providers have made pleas online asking for donations.  We have heard reports of hospitals reusing N95 respirators intended for single use, which the Food and Drug Administration does not recommend.  Emergency room physicians have scoured the internet for PPE.  One hospital in the state was sold fraudulent PPE.  This is not a tenable situation for our critical frontline responders,” the lawmakers wrote to Assistant HHS Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec.  “We hope you will heed our calls and support New Jersey’s request.” 

The delegation wrote to HHS on March 16 in support of Governor Phil Murphy’s initial request for needed medical supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNP).

“The previous distributions, while appreciated, do not come close to addressing the rising need in our state,” the lawmakers continued.  “As you know, New Jersey’s positive COVID-19 cases are rising at a 37 percent growth rate, stressing the health care system in our state.”

The letter was signed by Sens. Menendez and Cory Booker and Reps. Pascrell, Donald Norcross (N.J.-01), Andy Kim (N.J.-03), Chris Smith (N.J.-04), Josh Gottheimer (N.J.-05), Tom Malinowski (N.J.-07), Albio Sires (N.J.-08), and Donald Payne, Jr. (N.J.-10), Mikie Sherrill (N.J.-11), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (N.J.-12).

Full text of the letter is below and can be downloaded here.

 

March 26, 2020

 

Robert Kadlec, M.D., MTM&H, M.S.

Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

200 Independence Ave., SW

Washington, DC 20201

 

Dear Assistant Secretary Kadlec, 

We write today in support of New Jersey’s request for supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS). We previously wrote to you about New Jersey’s critical need for requested medical supplies. The previous distributions, while appreciated, do not come close to addressing the rising need in our state. As you know, New Jersey’s positive COVID-19 cases are rising at a 37 percent growth rate, stressing the health care system in our state. 

On February 24, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy requested a list of supplies from the SNS to ensure that New Jersey has the necessary medical equipment to support the state’s COVID-19 response. Two weeks later, New Jersey received less than five percent of what was requested. In that timeframe, several states received 100 percent of their request. While we understand states are anticipating increased cases, the formula based on state population does not consider the increasing severity of this pandemic in certain states. New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the nation and its close proximity to New York means the rates of infection and medical need will be exponential. 

Below is a list of supplies received and requested by the state: 

  • N95 Respirators: 169,155 (requested 4,500,000)
  • Face/Surgical Masks: 402,959 (requested 864,000)
  • Face Shields: 76,731 (requested 1,296,000)
  • Surgical Gowns: 62,560 (requested 1,350,000)
  • Coveralls: 320 (requested 864,000)
  • Gloves: 222,755 (requested 2,225,000)
  • Ventilators: 4 (requested 2,500) 

Hospitals and providers have made pleas online asking for donations. We have heard reports of hospitals reusing N95 respirators intended for single use, which the Food and Drug Administration does not recommend. Emergency room physicians have scoured the internet for PPE. One hospital in the state was sold fraudulent PPE. This is not a tenable situation for our critical frontline responders.

While our Governor, Mayors, and County Executives are doing everything they can to limit exposure, New Jersey’s positive cases continue to grow exponentially, increasing the stress on our hospitals and providers. We hope you will heed our calls and support New Jersey’s request. 

Sincerely,

 

 

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