April 08, 2020

Maryland Delegation Members Call on FEMA to Immediately Provide More Medical Supplies to National Capital Region

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Representatives Steny Hoyer, Anthony Brown, David Trone, and Jamie Raskin (all D-Md.) today wrote to FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor urging the Administration to increase the federal government’s allotment of emergency medical supplies and equipment to the National Capital Region. The bipartisan letter was also signed by U.S. Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA), Rob Wittman (R-VA), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), and U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Mark Warner (D-VA).

In their letter, the Members said, “We write to express our concern that the National Capital Region is not being prioritized appropriately for the scale of the COVID-19 impact on the region. FEMA had provided only a fraction of each jurisdiction’s request for personal protective equipment and medical supplies, leaving massive shortfalls. Because of the unique nature of the interconnectedness of the National Capital Region, through transport, work, and commerce, lack of resources in one area inherently affects the others. It is important for supplies allocation to recognize that unique quality and plan appropriately for the Region.”  

They continued, “In their most recent request, Virginia, Maryland and the District received a very small percentage of the equipment they asked for from FEMA.”

The Members urged, “Our jurisdictions cannot wait until the surge is here if we need supplies now. We expect to become a new epicenter of infection in coming weeks despite the recently implemented ‘stay-at-home’ orders. We ask that you place a higher attention and consideration for supplies to the National Capital Region.”

Their letter followed the release of House Oversight and Reform Committee documents showing that Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia all received significantly less medical equipment from FEMA distributions of the Strategic National Stockpile than some other states. The federal government’s failure to meet the medical supply needs of area governments came as Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House response, cited the Washington D.C. region as a particular concern.

Text of the letter follows below and a signed copy is available here.

Dear Administrator Gaynor:

We write to express our concern that the National Capital Region is not being prioritized appropriately for the scale of the COVID-19 impact on the region. FEMA had provided only a fraction of each jurisdiction’s request for personal protective equipment and medical supplies, leaving massive shortfalls. Because of the unique nature of the interconnectedness of the National Capital Region, through transport, work, and commerce, lack of resources in one area inherently affects the others. It is important for supplies allocation to recognize that unique quality and plan appropriately for the Region.

In their most recent request, Virginia, Maryland and the District received a very small percentage of the equipment they asked for from FEMA. The District received no hospital ventilators, none of the safety goggles and hand sanitizer it asked for and received less than 1 percent of a requested 663,760 gloves and 1,132,478 respirator masks. Maryland got only 4,000 of the 200,000 requested nasal swabs and none of the viral transport media requested for COVID-19 testing. Additionally, Maryland only received less than a quarter of the 225,194 face shields and 421,532 respirator masks, and less than half of the 872,309 surgical masks requested. Virginia received none of the surgical masks or face shields it requested, and less than 8 percent of the 2,214,388 respirator masks and 3,386,976 gloves it sought. Virginia has also been told it will need to wait to receive its ventilator request for when the surge hits.

On April 4th, CDC’s Dr. Birx recognized that D.C. is on track to become one of the next hotspots. It is equally important to note that the hotspots in Virginia and Maryland reside in the National Capital Region. Surge data for Virginia would fail to predict the faster surge for the counties of the National Capital Region which have been more impacted. In addition, inadequate allocation of nasal swabs and the lack of allocation of viral transport media to Maryland in the most recent FEMA shipment will likely suppress Maryland’s true case numbers and thus the case counts in the National Capital Region as it becomes a hot spot. Further, deeply under-resourcing D.C. inherently means spillover to either Virginia or Maryland and vice versa. Our jurisdictions cannot wait until the surge is here if we need supplies now. We expect to become a new epicenter of infection in coming weeks despite the recently implemented “stay-at-home” orders.

We ask that you place a higher attention and consideration for supplies to the National Capital Region.

Sincerely,

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