Menendez, Sherrill Lead NJ Delegation Push for HHS to Utilize DPA

Menendez, Sherrill Lead NJ Delegation Push for HHS to Utilize DPA

Defense Production Act critical to production of PPE for health care workers, first responders

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee that sets national health policy, and Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (N.J.-11) today led the New Jersey congressional delegation in calling on U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar to utilize the authority delegated to him by the President under the Defense Production Act. Immediate action from HHS would help ensure that sufficient personal protection equipment (PPE) is being manufactured to keep our communities safe and halt the spread of COVID-19. New Jersey now has the second highest rate of COVID-19 cases in the United States, with more than 4,400 confirmed cases and 62 deaths across the state. 

“In our home state of New Jersey, the need is particularly acute. New Jersey has the second highest rate of COVID-19 cases in the country, and our supply of respirators, eye protection, face masks, and other protective gear is rapidly decreasing,” the lawmakers wrote. “In some regions of New Jersey, healthcare providers estimate that their supplies will run out in a matter of days based on current usage levels – usage which is predicted to dramatically increase in the coming days and weeks. Deepening the need, New Jersey has only received a fraction of the supplies it has requested from the Strategic National Stockpile.”

The letter was also signed by U.S. Senator Cory Booker, and U.S. Representatives Donald Norcross (N.J.-01), Jeff Van Drew (N.J.-02), Andy Kim (N.J.-03), Chris Smith (N.J.-04), Josh Gottheimer (NJ-0.5.), Frank Pallone, Jr. (N.J.-06), Tom Malinowski (N.J.-07), Albio Sires (N.J.-08), Bill Pascrell, Jr. (N.J-09), Donald Payne, Jr. (N.J.-10), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (N.J.-12). 

Sen. Menendez first called on the President to invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA) last week, in order to expand national production of needed medical supplies like masks, ventilators and respirators, and to expand hospital capacity to combat the COVID-19 coronavirus. He followed up, along with Sen. Booker, in a letter urging the President to invoke the DPA.

The full text of the letter to Sec. Azar is available here and below:

 

Dear Secretary Azar,

The President’s Executive Order of March 18, 2020, designating the equipment needed to fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus as meeting the criteria set forth by the Defense Production Act, was an important step toward ensuring that our healthcare providers and first responders have the resources they need to keep our communities safe. Personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, and testing reagents are all in short supply, and increased production is desperately needed.

To that end, we write to urge you to utilize the authority delegated to you by the President under the Defense Production Act to ensure that sufficient equipment is being manufactured to keep our communities safe and halt the spread of COVID-19.

In our home state of New Jersey, the need is particularly acute. New Jersey has the second highest rate of COVID-19 cases in the country, and our supply of respirators, eye protection, face masks, and other protective gear is rapidly decreasing. In some regions of New Jersey, healthcare providers estimate that their supplies will run out in a matter of days based on current usage levels – usage which is predicted to dramatically increase in the coming days and weeks. Deepening the need, New Jersey has only received a fraction of the supplies it has requested from the Strategic National Stockpile.

Healthcare providers and first responders are our first and best line of defense against COVID-19. We cannot afford to risk running out of PPE; the lives of providers, responders, and the public depend on it.

We are immensely proud of New Jersey’s healthcare providers and first responders, who have selflessly and tirelessly worked to contain and confront this pandemic. We have also been overwhelmed by the resilience of New Jersey companies, many of whom have offered to re-tool production lines to begin to manufacture PPE. Many others who already produce PPE are working around the clock to increase their output. They need support from the federal government, and the President’s delegation under the Defense Production Act gives you the tools to provide it. We look forward to working with you to ensure New Jersey receives the protective equipment it needs. 

Sincerely,

Click the link for a full list of Sen. Menendez’s actions to protect New Jersey families during the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

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