House Democrats Want Trump Team’s Answers on Supply Shortages

Hailey Waller

(Bloomberg) --

Democrats on the House Oversight Committee want the Trump administration to brief the panel on plans to meet shortages of personal protective equipment for health-care workers as well as ventilators and hospital bed capacity.

Doctors, nurses and other medical personnel are dealing with a lack of basic equipment like masks and gowns that could worsen the spread of the coronavirus, Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney and subcommittee leaders wrote in a letter sent Saturday to the Department of Health and Human Services.

“If they become ill, hospitals will lose critically needed staff to treat the influx of patients,” the lawmakers say in the letter. “If providers continue to work without adequate protection, they will be more likely to transmit the virus to patients and other health care workers, which will exacerbate this pandemic even further.”

The lawmakers wrote that the committee wants clarification of plans to distribute equipment and medical gear, how the administration plans to use the Defense Production Act to increase the production of protective gear, and the role the Federal Emergency Management Agency will play in distribution.

In response to questions about shortages last week, HHS acknowledged that they were aware of the need for more supplies and have sought additional funding from Congress. It also said hospitals need to coordinate with state and local officials to meet needs from stockpiles.

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