Gov. Northam calling for more federal leadership as VA hospitals see supply shortages

Capitol Connection

RICHMOND, VA. (WRIC)- Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration wants the federal government to take more of a leadership role as Virginia’s hospitals face shortages of critical resources.

On Tuesday, Gov. Northam said the state recently got its first shipment of medical masks, gloves, and gowns from the national stockpile with more expected to come next week.

“We know it will not be enough and this is an issue nationwide,” Northam said.

The governor said his team is exhausting all options to produce and purchase more personal protective equipment (PPE). He said they’ve reached out to companies in Virginia and overseas. Northam said his team is also asking other industries like dentistry, technology, coal, and tobacco to offer up additional PPE.

“We know our hospitals also expect to need more ventilators,” Northam said Tuesday. “That’s a complicated piece of equipment so it’s not so easy to quickly change an assembly line to make them.”

Virginia is one of 50 states scrambling to get the same supplies to deal with COVID19. That’s why some are calling on President Donald Trump to use the Defense Production Act to its fullest extent to expedite additional resources and streamline allocation.

President Trump argues that private companies are already stepping up without a mandate from the federal government.

Dr. Daniel Carey, Virginia’s Secretary of Health and Human Resources, said organizing at the national level is necessary during this global pandemic.

“Talking today to a health system in Massachusetts, they too are looking at weeks of supplies in their supply chain so if we don’t replenish that we will be in a very severe situation,” Carey said on Tuesday. “That type of coordination at the national level would help every state and every territory but it doesn’t mean we’re waiting. It doesn’t mean we’re not taking advantage of every opportunity.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently said his administration has experienced price gouging caused by competitive bidding among states.

Northam said Monday that Virginia has yet to encounter that problem but he too encouraged the federal government to take the lead.

“We are essentially fighting a biological war in this country and I expect our leaders in Washington to accept that that is the reality and to have guidance and to give support to the states,” Northam said. “We have not received that guidance and this is not unique to Virginia.”

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