We need a national strategy for getting Personal Protective Equipment for OUR HEROES!

We need a national strategy for getting Personal Protective Equipment for OUR HEROES!

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Nicole Gray started this petition to President Donald J. Trump and

To be clear: crises generally arise from a lack of planning or preparedness.  

Today, as 31 states see increases in new coronavirus cases, we are on the verge of yet another crisis as our healthcare workers are still in short supply of critical Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks, gowns, gloves and face shields.   

We need a national strategy, STAT!

Our nation nearly shutdown as we joined the globe to fight COVID-19, in earnest, in mid-February.  We recognized early on that we were unprepared for the influx of critical cases predicted; we didn’t have enough ICU beds, ventilators, medication, oxygen nor PPE.   So, the majority of Americans gave ‘full faith and credit’ to our self-governing experiment and stayed home, only venturing out for work and necessities in efforts to “flatten the curve” or, simply, stretch out the number of those who may become critically ill from the virus over a longer period of time.  

Our efforts, in part, were to not overwhelm our healthcare system, give some lead time for stocking up on supplies and for scientists to work on reliable treatments and a vaccine.  But even with our collective efforts, the heroes we knighted for their bravery in treating this fast moving, fast acting, often deadly virus cried out for PPE needed to protect themselves, their families and patients.  Some of them expressed their concerns of quickly dwindling supplies via mainstream media and social media platforms.  Others went straight to local, state and federal lawmakers pleading with them to employ our mechanisms for requiring manufacturers to meet our needs.

We stayed home to buy time to stock up on critical supplies!

But, instead of giving our army the armor they need to fight this virus, we have had little national coordination, leaving states and hospitals to compete in an open market against other countries and entities that are all clamoring for limited supplies.  Early reports of states being outbid by our own federal government shows just how dire the need is for shoring up the supply chain when it comes to personal protective equipment. 

In my state of Texas, now competing for the nation's new epicenter, over half of the $1.1 billion dollars in orders of coronavirus supplies were cancelled due to delays or defectiveness according to reports last month.  States, like mine, are having to enter millions of dollars in no-bid contracts with manufacturers that have no history of manufacturing medical supplies. Unlike the misfortune of Californians, Texans have not been paying for supplies in advance of inspection so we have not had to try to claw back any of our funds during these lean times, thankfully.  But, the fact remains that we are short of the supplies we bargained for---those our healthcare workers NEED to do their jobs safely.   

We have an army with no armor!

Now, our schools are entering the fray as plans continue to unfold for in-class instruction of many students across the country this Fall.  For example, The Texas Education Agency announced a massive order of PPE in early June that it hopes to distribute to districts sometime around mid-July to August, although the state is not requiring students to wear masks (another onion to peel, but anywho). The odds of schools having greater success than states are slim and just adds greater stress to the supply chain. 

What rings the alarm and makes this petition so critical is that my state isn’t alone.  In May, just ahead of June’s massive numbers of new cases and hospitalizations all over the country, CNN’s Daniella Diaz and David Shortell reported  “Unfulfilled PPE contracts leave states scrambling for supplies amid the coronavirus pandemic.”  Struggles similar to that in Texas were detailed in New York, Maryland, Oklahoma and Louisiana, the last two of which are also facing surges in new cases.  

We are near, if not in, a crisis for PPE!

With so many states surging and having the potential to reach levels which exceed their capacities, we have to implement a national strategy to shore up our resources.  To date, our national efforts present no solitude when considering how the different parts of our coronavirus ‘response’ are being run.   

White House Trade and Manufacturing Policy Director Peter Navarro is in charge of implementing the Defense Production Act, although some lawmakers have objected to his fitness over an admiral for the job.   Rear Adm. John Polowczyk is heading up the supply chain task force with a hands off approach it seems as he’s announced he’s not there to ‘disrupt’ the supply chain just to add volume.   Vice President Mike Pence, bless his heart, is running a presidential coronavirus task force, which sort of disbanded a few weeks ahead of the current surge  -- along with other heavily involved officials, like Jared Kushner who managed to change the definition of the Strategic National Stockpile by referring to it as belonging to a federal government that existed without the states, referencing it as ‘our’ and ‘not to be states’ stockpiles’ (go figure).  

We need ONE person in charge of assessing current capacity, overseeing a national production strategy, coordinating with states and hospitals, and ensuring distribution of PPE!

Adding further worry to the mix are the 60 mask cleaning machines that the Pentagon has slated $600 million for that the White House coronavirus task force promised to buy from a defense company.  The cleaning machines that were priced at $60 million for the lot just on April 3 are supposed to allow protective masks to be reused up to 20 times. Besides that being the absolute grossest thing I have ever heard, scientists and nurses say the recycled masks treated by these machines begin to degrade after two or three treatments, not 20, and the company says its own recent field testing has only confirmed the integrity of the masks for four cycles of use and decontamination.

ABC News reported in May that “nurses in several places across the country now say they are afraid of being at greater risk of acquiring COVID-19 while using N95 masks, which they say often don’t fit correctly after just a few spins through a cleaning system that uses vapor phase hydrogen peroxide to disinfect them.”

We must do better to protect our heroes!

We are the PEOPLE.  WE must demand that this issue be prioritized for OUR health and safety.    

We need an accounting of the national stockpile; 

We need one person in charge of everything from assessing current capacity to distribution of PPE to states and hospitals; 

We need to cancel the contract for those mask cleaning machines (1. Ewwwww 2. 60 for up to $600M is ridiculous--shop around 3. Having our healthcare workers recycle masks up to 20 times is just some “sh$t-hole” country madness)

We need to equip our army with the armor they need to fight this virus--PERIOD!!

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