HHS staff told lawmakers that the agency won’t be shipping any more personal protective equipment from the Strategic National Stockpile to states, according to a statement from the House Oversight Committee.
The Department of Health and Human Services has distributed 11.7 million N95 respirators and almost 8,000 ventilators to states and localities from the stockpile to combat Covid-19, an HHS document released Wednesday by the committee shows.
Agency staff told the committee on Tuesday that they have dispersed 90% of the stockpile’s PPE inventory, according to the statement. The remaining 10% would be kept for federal workers, the staff said.
“The allocation strategy is based on a pro-rata formula that is proportionate to the population size of each jurisdiction based on 2010 U.S. Census data,” an HHS spokesperson said in a statement. “It is important to note that the pro-rata allocations are likely less than what states are currently requesting. However, jurisdictions are receiving 100% of their allocations. Areas of high transmission have received additional allocations by request.”
Health-care providers and state governments have repeatedly said they don’t have enough ventilators and personal protective equipment to care for patients. Some hospitals have given their doctors just one N95 respirator even though the devices are not typically meant to be reused.
“The federal government has distributed just a fraction of the personal protective equipment and critical medical supplies that our hospitals and medical first responders urgently need,” House Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said in the statement.
“Now that the national stockpile has been depleted of critical equipment, it appears that the Administration is leaving states to fend for themselves, to scour the open market for these scarce supplies, and to compete with each other and federal agencies in a chaotic, free-for-all bidding war,” Maloney said.
The stockpile has also distributed about 26.5 million surgical masks, 5.3 million face shields, 4.4 million surgical gowns, 145,000 coverall suits, and 22.6 million gloves as of Monday, according to the document.
The supplies have been delivered over the last month, with the earliest shipments being made March 12 to Illinois, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Washington state.