Public Health

Emergency steps needed to boost production of PPE for COVID-19

What’s the news: The past week has seen many strides toward addressing the challenges emerging from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Days after declaring the COVID-19 outbreak a national emergency, President Donald Trump used his executive authority to invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA). 

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In a letter to President Trump, the AMA, American Hospital Association (AHA) and the American Nurses Association (ANA) urged the president to “immediately use the DPA to increase the domestic production of medical supplies and equipment that hospitals, health systems, physicians, nurses and all front line providers so desperately need.”  

The growing supply chain shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the ripple effect to those on the front lines is a foremost concern for all health care professionals.  

This letter puts a finer point on the urgency expressed in a March 16 letter sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in which the AMA, AHA and the ANA wrote that the COVID-19 economic stimulus package should include $1 billion to ensure that “hospitals, health systems, physicians and nurses are viable and directly supported for preparedness and response.”  

Why it’s important: The AMA has been loud and clear that the shortage of PPE remains a high priority, which was reinforced by AMA President Patrice A. Harris, MD, MA, during a recent virtual meeting with President Trump and Vice President Pence. 

The letter to President Trump underscores the importance of swift action. “Even with an infusion of supplies from the strategic stockpile and other federal resources, there will not be enough medical supplies, including ventilators, to respond to the projected COVID-19 outbreak. We have heard of health care providers reusing masks or resorting to makeshift alternatives for masks,” the letter reads 

Concerns were raised about the dwindling supplies of: N95 respirators, ventilators, isolation gowns, isolation masks, surgical masks, eye protection, intensive care unit equipment and diagnostic testing supplies. 

Learn more: The AMA is teaming with the essential partners in health care to reach the highest levels of government to fight for physicians and patients by listening to front line physicians and channeling their collective voices into action.   

Visit the AMA COVID-19 resource centerfor a comprehensive place to find the latest resources and updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.