US states collaborate on PPE procurement

11 May 2020

Seven eastern US states are to collaborate in the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as testing and other medical equipment in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island and Massachusetts are to develop a regional supply chain for the goods by approaching local businesses to scale up production.

The states will continue to partner with the federal government but will also work together to identify the entire region’s needs for these products, aggregate demand, reduce costs and stabilise the supply chain.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo has been at odds with president Donald Trump over the procurement of PPE, saying that a federal approach was required.

He believed states had begun competing against one another to acquire PPE from overseas, driving up prices.

The states plan to identify local suppliers capable of scaling up production to meet the demand of the entire region over the next three months.

“The goal of this approach is to decrease the potential for disruptions in the supply chain for PPE and medical equipment, including sanitiser and ventilators, and testing, and promote regional economic development,” said the states in a statement.

They are also looking at alternative methods of production such as 3D printers, which have already been used as a means of quickly manufacturing ventilator parts.

“The Covid-19 pandemic created a mad scramble for medical equipment across the entire nation – there was competition among states, private entities and the federal government and we were driving up the prices of these critical resources,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo said that when the crisis first hit, the equipment situation was one “no one anticipated. We couldn't get enough gowns or masks.”

As a result, going forward participating states will expect every hospital to have a 90-day stockpile of their own PPE on hand based on the daily rate of usage seen during the crisis.

“We can't go through day-to-day moving of masks across the state. This mad scramble we were in and still are in,” Cuomo said. “As a nation, we can't go through this again.”

States will also coordinate policies to ensure each has an inventory of PPE in their healthcare infrastructure should a second virus wave take place.

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