Daily Coronavirus Supply Shortage Roundup

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Daily Coronavirus Supply Shortage Roundup April 6, 2020

CNN: “One health system said it received 1,000 masks from federal and state governments, half of which were for children and couldn’t be used by adult staff”

CNN: “Another hospital reported receiving a shipment of N95 masks from a state strategic reserve, but the elastic bands had dry-rotted.”

As Trump’s own Surgeon General warns of what could become “the hardest and saddest week of most Americans’ lives,” supply shortages that could have been prevented with adequate preparation continue to plague states and hospitals working to fight the virus. 

A Dire New Report from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Inspector General Shows Trump’s Inaction, Bungled Response Led to Hazardous Shortages on the Front Lines

CNN: Watchdog Report Finds Severe Shortages And Significant Challenges To Hospitals’ Coronavirus Responses

  • “Hospitals were simultaneously competing for other limited supplies, like personal protective equipment and ventilators. One administrator stated that their hospital’s purchaser was reporting delays of 3-6 months to replenish supplies, like surgical and N95 masks. Some of the supplies hospitals received were not usable. One health system said it received 1,000 masks from federal and state governments, half of which were for children and couldn’t be used by adult staff, according to the report. Another hospital reported receiving a shipment of N95 masks from a state strategic reserve, but the elastic bands had dry-rotted. And one hospital said it received two shipments from a federal agency that contained personal protective equipment that expired in 2010.” [CNN, 4/6/20]

NBC News: Government Watchdog: Hospitals Face Severe Shortages Of Medical Gear, Confusing Guidance From Government

  • “Hospitals told investigators that thermometers were in short supply, undermining hospitals’ ability to check temperatures of staff members and patients for indicators of the coronavirus. One hospital resorted to screening patients, staff members and vendors at random because it did not have enough thermometers, according to the report. Another hospital with more than 700 staff members reported having one or two thermometers and therefore was ‘unable to take employee temperatures,’ the report said.”  [NBC News, 4/6/20]
  • “Hospital administrators also said conflicting guidance from federal, state and local governments on how to use personal protective gear and other issues has led to ‘a greater sense of confusion, fear and distrust among staff that they can rely on hospital procedures to protect them…’” [NBC News, 4/6/20]

Deadly Ventilator Shortages Persist, and Lifesaving Drugs Grow Scant

BuzzFeed: “I’ve Never Seen Anything Like This”: Doctors Without Enough Ventilators Are Being Told Whom To Save During The Coronavirus Pandemic

Axios: Ventilators: Not Too Little, But Too Late For Many

USA Today: Governors Warn Of Dire Ventilator Shortages As Virus Pandemic Rages. Trump Says Some Are Playing ‘Politics’

Axios: “The Looming Shortage of Ventilators… Creates Harrowing Decisions For The Health Care Workers Who May Have To Decide Which Patients Get Them And Which Ones Don’t.”

  • “The looming shortage of ventilators doesn’t just impact the coronavirus patients who will need one to breathe. It also creates harrowing decisions for the health care workers who may have to decide which patients get them and which ones don’t… Doctors and other health care workers are doing everything they can to stretch limited resources, including attaching more than one patient to a single ventilator and converting anesthesia machines to serve as ventilators… NYU Langone Health told emergency room doctors last month that they have “sole discretion” to place patients on ventilators, and that the hospital supports withholding “futile intubations.” [Axios, 4/6/20]

Vox: You Can’t Use Ventilators Without Sedatives. Now The U.S. Is Running Out Of Those, Too.

  • “Although New York City may be the first city in the country to run out of ventilators, other cities are expected to follow. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy recently tweeted, “Ventilators are our #1 need right now. I won’t stop fighting to get us the equipment we need to save every life we can.” Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards predicted that his state would run out of ventilators by April 6. But to save a Covid-19 patient’s life with a ventilator, you also need an ample supply of medications, both to be able to use the machine and to prevent agonizing pain. Experts say there’s a worrisome shortage of those, too — one that’s only expected to grow worse.” [Vox, 4/6/20]

Daily Beast: The Next Shortage That Could Kneecap Our Medical System

  • “Americans have been warned for months about possible drug supply shortages. In fact, before the coronavirus outbreak was even on the national radar, in December 2019, there were 264 drug shortages being monitored by the American Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists. (They define a shortage as any “supply issue that affects how the pharmacy prepares or dispenses a drug product or influences patient care when prescribers must use an alternative agent.”) But with projected U.S. deaths ranging into the millions, the possibility of drug shortages is much more complicated—and more dire—than it was just a few months ago. And a drug supply crisis during a deadly pandemic could have especially brutal ripple effects on an already strained healthcare system.” [Daily Beast, 4/5/20]

Alicia Mitchell, Senior VP Of Communications At The American Hospital Associations: We Increasingly Hear Complaints About A Lack Of Drugs Needed For Patient Care.

  • “Not a day goes by where we don’t hear from hospitals and health systems across the country that are concerned about shortages of PPE for their heroic frontline caregivers,” Alicia Mitchell, [the American Hospital Association’s] senior vice president of communications, said in a statement to NPR. She said that in addition to concerns about shortages of ventilators and other critical equipment and supplies, the association increasingly hears complaints about a lack of drugs needed for patient care.”  [NPR, 4/5/20]

Testing Remains Inaccessible, While Massive Backlogs Slow Results

NYT: Delays and Shortages Exacerbate Coronavirus Testing Gaps in the U.S.

  • Chrissie Juliano, Executive Director of the Big Cities Health Coalition: “Many local communities are flying blind, making decisions in the absence of full information largely due to the failure of the federal government to provide sufficient testing capacity… This testing shortage, and lack of available information about the actual burden of the virus, has set our country’s response back by an order of magnitude we will never know.” [New York Times, 4/6/20]
  • “Federal inquiries have begun to determine how the nation’s testing capacity turned into such a debacle. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had manufacturing errors with the first test it devised for public health labs around the country, and so testing in the states stalled as the virus began to spread in Washington State, New York and California. The Food and Drug Administration, charged with approving the test, was so frustrated that the agency pushed for the C.D.C. to stop making it on site and instead send it to Integrated DNA Technologies, an outside lab. The F.D.A., for its part, was slow to recognize the danger of the pandemic, and how critical testing by commercial labs and hospitals would be as the virus spread.” [New York Times, 4/6/20]

NPR: Many Who Need Testing For COVID-19 Fail To Get Access

  • “There’s still a serious shortage of testing for COVID-19 across the U.S., in spite of President Trump insisting the situation is improving. While COVID-19 testing criteria can vary depending on where you live, tests are being rationed in every state. Demand is far outstripping capacity from Alabama to Oregon.” [NPR, 4/3/20]

ProPublica: Along the Border, the Population Is High Risk for Coronavirus, but Testing Is In Short Supply

Kaiser Health News: Tragedy In Nursing Homes: Consequence Of Failed Testing, Shortage Of Protective Gear For Workers

The National Stockpile Nearly Depleted, States And Caregivers Struggle To Find Solutions For Limited Protective Equipment

WFPL: Federal Government Outbids Kentucky For Medical Equipment Amid Shortage

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear: “Our Biggest Problem Is That Just About Every Single Order That We Have Out There For PPE, We Get A Call Right When It’s Supposed To Be Shipped And It’s Typically The Federal Government Has Bought It.”

  • “Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear says his administration is doing everything it can to prepare hospitals to be inundated with cases of COVID-19, but nearly every time the state has placed an order for medical protective gear, the federal government has prevented its transfer… ‘Our biggest problem is that just about every single order that we have out there for PPE, we get a call right when it’s supposed to be shipped and it’s typically the federal government has bought it,’ Beshear said during a Saturday press conference. ‘It’s very hard to buy things when the federal government is there and anytime they want to buy it, they get it first.’” [WFPL, 4/4/20]

Miami Herald: ‘Shady As Hell.’ Governor, Hospitals Stymied By Expensive, Elusive Supplies Of Masks

Speaker Of The Maine House Sara Gideon: Maine’s Health Care Workers Need Protective Equipment, Federal Action Now

  • Sara Gideon writes in the Portland Press Herald: “During his daily press briefing April 3, Dr. Nirav Shah from the Maine CDC delivered a stark warning about the shortage of personal protective equipment, or PPE. Our current situation, he said, is like “we’ve got an umbrella and we’re in a hurricane.” That grim analogy reinforces what nurses, doctors, and first responders have been saying for weeks now. Maine’s health care workers are on the frontlines of the battle against coronavirus, treating patients with the most severe cases of COVID-19 while putting themselves at risk of infection — particularly if they lack the basic equipment to protect themselves. Over 40 health care workers in Maine have already tested positive for COVID-19. Our country owes it to them to produce and supply the PPE to help ensure health care workers are safe, but as the number of cases continues to grow in Maine and across the country, we’re still waiting for meaningful action from the federal government. [Portland Press Herald, Sara Gideon, 4/5/20]

NPR: Hospitals Are Sourcing Masks from Auto Body Shops, HHS Inspector General Finds

LA Times: 39 Million Masks Never Materialized At Hospitals, Sparking A Federal Investigation

Associated Press: US ‘Wasted’ Months Before Preparing For Coronavirus Pandemic

  • “After the first alarms sounded in early January that an outbreak of a novel coronavirus in China might ignite a global pandemic, the Trump administration squandered nearly two months that could have been used to bolster the federal stockpile of critically needed medical supplies and equipment.  A review of federal purchasing contracts by The Associated Press shows federal agencies largely waited until mid-March to begin placing bulk orders of N95 respirator masks, mechanical ventilators and other equipment needed by front-line health care workers.” [Associated Press, 4/6/20]

Vox: America’s Emergency Medical Stockpile Is Almost Empty. Nobody Knows What Happens Next.

  • “As President Donald Trump struggles to coordinate a cohesive response to the pandemic and fights with state governors over how these supplies will be distributed, the stockpile is becoming a source of controversy. It’s also starting to run out of supplies.” [Vox, 4/3/20]
  • “Experts and lawmakers are concerned that the Trump administration’s uneven distribution of supplies is driven by political goals. In early March, when Washington state requested 233,000 N95 respirators and 200,000 surgical masks, the Strategic National Stockpile sent them less than half that amount. Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maine also said they received fractions of what they requested from the federal government. But on March 10, after Washington’s request, Florida asked for 430,000 surgical masks, 180,000 N95 respirators, and other equipment. The full order arrived three days later.” [Vox, 4/3/20]

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