April 06, 2020

Mass. Delegation Urges FEMA to Immediately Release Enough Ventilators from the Strategic National Stockpile to Massachusetts as Hospitals Prepare for Surge

Text of Letter (PDF)

Boston, MA -- United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA), along with Representatives Richard E. Neal, (D-MA-01), James P. McGovern (D-MA-02), Seth Moulton (D-MA-06), Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA-08), William Keating (D-MA-09), Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-MA-04), Katherine Clark (D-MA-05), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-07) and Lori Trahan (D-MA-03), today wrote to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urging the agency to immediately grant requests submitted by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) for additional ventilators from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) as the state prepares for a surge in hospitalizations.

"We have heard from hospitals in the state that they will run out of invasive ventilators in a matter of days and will run out of other ventilators that can be adapted for use for COVID-19 patients within a week," wrote the lawmakers in their letter to FEMA.

Massachusetts currently has a total of 12,500 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus infection and 231 deaths from COVID-19, and the virus is expected to peak in the coming days, infecting between 47,000 and 172,000 residents - or up to 2.5% of the population. Governor Baker recently announced projections showing that a COVID-19 surge in hospitalizations is expected between April 10th and April 20th, and that the state could see up to 2,580 COVID-19 deaths. 

In their letter, lawmakers also questioned why Massachusetts was originally granted 1,000 of the 1,700 ventilators it requested from the federal government, yet has since been told by officials at FEMA and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that Massachusetts will only receive 100 ventilators.

The Trump Administration currently has over 9,000 total ventilators available in the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) - and over the past week has distributed these lifesaving machines to five other states. Additionally, the Department of Defense is reportedly awaiting instructions from FEMA and the Department of Health and Human Services to provide an additional 2,000 ventilators as needed. 

"Given the growing need in Massachusetts, approving and sending only 100 ventilators to Massachusetts is absurd, and FEMA can and must do more to help Massachusetts during this crisis," the lawmakers continued.

Senator Warren also wrote to FEMA on March 30th raising alarm about delays in delivery of critical medical equipment to MA, including ventilators and protective gear, following reports of the federal government outbidding states amidst confusion and delay surrounding states' orders of urgently-needed medical supplies.

On Friday, she slammed false statements by Jared Kushner that the Strategic National Stockpile is not intended to address gaps in state and local supplies in a public health crisis and joined Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) to investigate political interference in decision making about the stockpile after the description of the Strategic National Stockpile on HHS's website was altered. 

@SenWarren: Hours after Jared Kushner falsely stated that the Strategic National Stockpile of supplies isn't for states, someone at HHS edited the stockpile's website description. @SenDuckworth & I want @OIGatHHS to look into improper political interference at HHS.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, Senator Warren has pressed the Trump Administration to respond effectively to deliver the robust set of resources needed to address this emergency. She unveiled detailed plans to increase diagnostic testing nationwide. She has also repeatedly called on Congress to force the Trump Administration to fully use the Defense Production Act to produce badly-needed medical supplies, including ventilators.