Chairs Maloney and Clyburn Request GAO Study and American Manufacturing Opportunities for PPE Supply Chain
Washington, D.C. (July 10, 2020)—On Thursday, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Rep. James E. Clyburn, the Chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, sent a letter asking the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to examine methods to promote the supply chain of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the United States.
“We write to request that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) conduct a study on methods to stabilize the supply chain of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the United States, including strategies to harness and promote America’s own domestic manufacturing capabilities, as the nation continues to fight the coronavirus pandemic and prepare for future pandemics,” wrote Maloney and Clyburn.
Last week, Chairwoman Maloney issued a memo detailing the significant challenges six large medical equipment distribution companies faced over the past six months in providing PPE and other critical medical supplies to communities across the country.
According to private companies working on the front lines of PPE procurement, states were forced into “working through brokers in China, which has led to a series of problems” and “way too much reliance on these Chinese brokers rather than a public-private partnership to procure necessary PPE.” Additionally, Rear Admiral John Polowczyk, who is responsible for directing the interagency Supply Chain Stabilization Task Force, testified at a hearing before the Select Subcommittee that as of July 2, the United States “essentially make[s] zero nitrile gloves.”
“Without sufficient PPE, healthcare workers are forced to put their lives, and those of their patients, at risk,” the Chairs wrote. “More than 400 healthcare workers have died from coronavirus, and shortages of PPE have played a significant role in this crisis.”
PPE shortages remain a critical challenge in fighting the coronavirus pandemic. On June 9, 2020, FEMA’s Supply Chain Stabilization Task Force projected a shortage of approximately 100 million gowns and 40 million N95 respirators in July. FEMA also recommended reusing masks and gowns, despite guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that reusing masks be reserved only as a method of last resort.
According to one survey, 87 percent of nurses reported being forced to reuse a single-use disposable respirator or mask while caring for coronavirus patients, increasing exposure risk for both providers and patients.
Chairwoman Maloney recently introduced the Made in America: Preparation for a Pandemic Act to guarantee an adequate stock of PPE in the Strategic National Stockpile at all times and establish domestic supply chain incentives that put Americans to work building the skills and materials we need during a crisis.
Click here to read the letter.