By Jackson Cote | March 18, 2020
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey urged the White House on Tuesday to take action to manufacture more protective equipment for health care workers to keep them safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
Healey, in a letter to the Trump administration, called on the president to develop a plan to mobilize the business community to produce more personal protective equipment, including masks, eye protection, gloves and gowns. She wrote that the shortage of such products needs to be addressed.
As the commonwealth faces more than 200 probable and confirmed cases of the respiratory infection known as COVID-19, some hospitals are telling employees to reuse N95 respirator masks to conserve quickly diminishing supplies, according to the attorney general. Both large academic medical centers and smaller community facilities alike are facing the same issues, she said.
“The complete lack of leadership by the White House during this pandemic is unacceptable,” Healey said in a statement. “The Trump Administration must act immediately to accelerate the production of new masks and other protective gear and get it to those who are treating patients. This is about saving lives.”
The letter, written jointly with New York Attorney General Letitia James and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, claimed that hospitals across the United States are seeing the demand for PPE equipment far outpace the supply available.Experts who spoke with the attorneys general estimated the country will need as many as 12 billion masks to protect doctors, nurses and others on the front lines of the pandemic. The national supply stands at roughly 30 million, though, and it is rapidly depleting as more and more people in the U.S. are diagnosed with the illness, according to the prosecutors’ letter.
The number of coronavirus cases in the country reached 4,226 across 49 states Tuesday, and the death toll climbed to 75, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As COVID-19 has spread nationally and internationally, some hospitals and public officials have reported an inability to conduct extensive testing for the virus and a shortage of face masks.“It is unacceptable for states to be told that they are on their own to acquire this necessary and life-saving equipment,” the attorneys general wrote in their letter. “These extraordinary circumstances require a concerted national effort similar to that undertaken during World War II.
“Although efforts to allow masks produced for industrial purposes to be used by health care workers is a step in the right direction, it is woefully insufficient to address to the critical shortage that our hospitals face right now.”
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