Supply for medical equipment maintained by the US government has nearly run out of protective gear that could be useful to combat the coronavirus pandemic, according to two officials with the US Department of Homeland Security.
The near-exhausted supply includes masks, respirators, gloves, gowns and face shields, the officials said. A small amount of gear has been set aside for federal first responders, according to one of the officials, both of whom requested anonymity to discuss the matter.
The US Strategic National Stockpile aims to provide medical supplies during emergencies so severe they cause shortages.
But states across the country have called on the federal government in recent weeks to send them large quantities of gear to help hospitals deal with surging cases of Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus.
The United States leads the world in confirmed coronavirus cases, with more than 188,000 infections and 3,873 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fena) took control of the stockpile management earlier this month and has been distributing supplies to states, according to one of the DHS officials.
As the reserve supplies have dwindled, Fema officials have sought to track down whatever protective medical equipment they can find available for purchase overseas, looking mostly to suppliers in China and Malaysia, according to the two DHS officials.
“Not only are we buying what they have to sell, we’re buying their next batch,” one of the DHS officials said.