Federal stockpile of PPE for coronavirus may be running low

As COVID-19 virus cases rise around the country, essential supplies are getting scarce

PPE may be in short supply as coronavirus cases increase
Registered nurse Gina Aubourg changes her protective gloves during testing at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing site in Florida. (Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)

The coronavirus is experiencing a surge and the federal government may not be able to provide the necessary protective personal equipment to front line workers.

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Medical professionals may not be able to handle the recent spike in COVID-19 cases as PPE supplies are limited, NBC reported. The outlet obtained internal administration documents that paint a grim picture.

For instance, the Strategic National Stockpile and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have fewer than 900,000 gloves in reserve since the crisis began.  82.7 million were shipped to states which were only 30% of the amount requested. Nursing homes are also experiencing shortages.

“Currently, nearly 20 percent of nursing homes report to [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] that they either do not have or have less than a one-week supply of PPE, and more than half of assisted living communities have less than a two-week supply of N-95 masks and gowns,” Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living, wrote in a letter to governors Tuesday.

 “N-95 masks are still not available and were not included in the FEMA shipments to nursing homes.”

These disclosures come as states such as California, Florida and Texas are reporting one in five new cases. California had to shut down the reopening of bars and salons as the death toll rose to almost 27%. In Florida, that number has been 84% in the past weeks.

U.S. Struggles With Coronavirus cases and PPE supplies
People are seen on the beach on July 14, 2020 in Miami Beach, Florida. Florida reported 15,300 coronavirus cases on Sunday, the most any state had reported on a single day since the pandemic began. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The staggering figures were “just not that dire,” according to Adm. John Polowczyk, the chief supply-chain official for the White House coronavirus task force. He told NBC News that there would not be an issue with making sure people and facilities got the resources needed.

“I’m not going to pretend to tell you that supply and demand are perfectly aligned again, because there is still some residual hunting and pecking for a few things,” he said. “But supply and demand back orders are trending typically down, and we’re fundamentally in a volume place differently than we were in, say, March and then very early April.”

He also added that hospitals would not be impacted due to demand and have stayed on top of what is needed.

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“We’re getting hospital-level information and they are required to report, from the CARES Act, specific hospital things like ICU beds, ICU bed usage, COVID patients, days of supply on hand,” he said. “That information from March until now has completely greened up, and green is ‘Do you have more than 15 days of supply?’”

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