April 08, 2020
Pennsylvania officials are preparing to redistribute inventories of unused or surplus personal protective equipment to hospitals in need during the coronavirus outbreak following an executive order signed by Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday.
The order requires health care providers, PPE manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers, and pharmaceutical companies to report inventory of PPE and other medical supplies to the state within the next five days. Health care facilities and providers also have to submit written reports detailing their needs during the outbreak to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, which will oversee the redistribution of these supplies.
Wolf said that the executive order to assist the health care system during the COVID-19 outbreak will allow the state "to transfer supplies and information between medical facilities to both high-population, high-impact areas and lower population areas that might not have as many existing medical resources."
"Combatting a pandemic means we all have to work together and that means we need to make the best use of our medical assets to ensure the places that need them most have them," Wolf said.
"This will also prevent sick Pennsylvanians from having to choose which hospital to go to for fear that some have less access to equipment than others and it will help us make use of every ventilator, every piece of PPE, and every medical worker."
PEMA and other state agencies will reimburse facilities for PPE and other supplies, as well as to administer the distribution of the protective gear equipment across Pennsylvania to hospitals in most-need.
Despite the state's efforts to acquire any available PPE to help out hospitals and healthcare workers on the frontlines of the virus, Wolf said that there is still a shortage of many items, such as N95 face masks, ventilators, respirators, face shields, safety goggles, and disinfectants across Pennsylvania. He also applauded healthcare facilities and the private sector across the state for already volunteering to provide additional PPE.
"I commend Pennsylvania's medical facilities for their efforts so far in helping to shift resources toward the fight against COVID-19," Gov. Wolf said. "Many are already working together to shift resources among facilities, both public and private, and many of our medical facilities have shifted resources internally."
Pennsylvania has 16,239 confirmed coronavirus cases, the seventh-most of any state across the country. There had been 309 deaths due to COVID-19 as of Wednesday afternoon. With 4,456 positive cases and 86 deaths, Philadelphia has the most in both categories of any county in Pennsylvania.
Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties have 3,684 cases and 88 deaths from COVID-19.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has taken similar actions to acquire the needed PPE for hospitals and healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Murphy signed an executive order on March 28 directing health care facilities to report information such as bed, PPE and ventilator inventories on a daily basis. He previously had signed an executive order mandating all businesses and non-hospital health care facilities to submit their inventories of PPE, ventilators, respirators and anesthesia machines to the state.
Then on April 2, he signed an executive order authorizing the New Jersey State Police to take control of extra medical supplies and equipment held by companies and health care facilities that are not currently in operation.