DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Senator Sherrod Brown said in a press briefing Thursday that he is proposing legislation to ramp up production of personal protective equipment. He says production of PPE was not supported by the federal government the way it should’ve been at the start of the pandemic. Now that’s affecting the community as whole, he says, leading to more sickness and negatively impacting the economy.
“This pandemic has revealed – it’s been called the great revealer. It’s revealed racial disparities in this country. It’s revealed our lack of preparedness for a nationwide health crisis. The president, since March, since February really, has failed in his response to the pandemic. Too many of our front-line workers and healthcare providers have experienced PPE shortages, and as a result, many of them have gotten sick.”
Since the spring, President Trump has praised federal response to the crisis and has touted a quick response in making sure healthcare workers were equipped with the PPE they needed.
2 NEWS spoke to Medical Director of the Premier Health EMS Center of Excellence, Randy Marriot about the PPE shortage he’d seen locally. He said there was a stockpile already available for emergencies, but health professionals to still had to reuse some PPE when the pandemic started.
“I think measures for conservation we instituted is what made the difference. The cancellation of elective surgeries, or I should say, the postponement of elective surgeries and other conservation measures that we put in place early on, and again, following CDC guidelines, I think made a huge difference in our ability to meet the demands in the spring.”
Dr. Marriot said PPE shortages overall were not as severe locally as in some other areas across the country. But Senator Brown said he’s putting a plan in place to avoid a slow response to national health emergencies in the future.
“Supply chains are critical in a crisis like this. Our ability to produce equipment in the United States, the equipment we need, is a matter of national security and public health. We must make PPE production a federal priority. That’s why I’m introducing the Protecting American Heroes Act, which would increase U.S. production of PPE and other critical items in the Strategic National Stockpile.”
Brown’s new legislation would ensure the national stockpile could offer supplies to all 50 states at once, would require all of those items to be produced in the U.S., create a deputy assistant position to oversee that stockpile, and make funding mandatory for the stockpile. He also said he doesn’t have a set amount for how much the government should spend on the program, as it is critical to the well-being of the country.
“To me, it’s like the military. I mean if you’re at war, if you have a huge public health crisis, you spend what you got to spend to make us safe.”
Dr. Marriott added, locally, even though some PPE items did run low toward the beginning of the pandemic, the health system has always followed CDC guidelines to keep staff and patients safe, and that’s what they plan on doing in the future.
“I think the most important message is, it is safe to come to the hospital. It is safe to come to the emergency department. We have adequate PPE to protect them and to protect our staff.”