A bipartisan delegation of lawmakers from Washington urged the federal government to dip into its stockpile of personal protective equipment and send more to their state, which has become the domestic epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak
In the letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, the group — which includes Sen. Maria Cantwell and Sen. Patty Murray, as well as Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler — said resources in Washington are stretched too thin.
Personal protective equipment, or PPE, includes gloves, masks, eyewear, gowns, and any other garment that could help prevent the spread of the virus, especially among health care professionals.
“Many health centers, nursing facilities, fire departments, and other sectors throughout the state have either depleted their supply of PPE or will run out in a matter of days,” the letter stated.
“The King County Fire Department, for example, recently quarantined firefighters due to exposure to COVID-19 without PPE. Additionally, the Washington State Hospital Association has indicated that hospitals throughout the state are not receiving the amount of PPE requested, and efforts to purchase PPE independently have also been so far unsuccessful. Meanwhile, the Richmond Beach Rehab Center only has PPE for another week, and their vendor is out of stock, and Vancouver firefighters have been reusing respirators to stretch their limited supply.”
The letter, sent Monday, was also signed by six other House representatives from Washington.
“We urge you to be fully responsive to Washington state’s PPE requests from the National Strategic Stockpile,” they concluded.