On Wednesday, I joined my colleagues of the Virginia Congressional Delegation, Members of the Maryland Delegation, and Congresswoman Norton of Washington, DC, in sending a letter to FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor urging the Administration to increase the federal government’s allotment of emergency medical supplies and equipment to the National Capital Region.
In the letter, we emphasized that our jurisdictions cannot wait until the surge is here – we need supplies now. We asked that FEMA place higher attention and consideration for supplies to the National Capital Region. I have been hearing from medical professionals, local officials, and first responders about the need for more supplies – and I am working hard with my colleagues to make that happen.
You can read the letter below or access a signed copy here.
The Honorable Peter T. Gaynor
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Dear Administrator Gaynor:
We write to express our concern that the National Capital Region is not being prioritized appropriately for the scale of the COVID-19 impact on the region. FEMA had provided only a fraction of each jurisdiction’s request for personal protective equipment and medical supplies, leaving massive shortfalls. Because of the unique nature of the interconnectedness of the National Capital Region, through transport, work, and commerce, lack of resources in one area inherently affects the others. It is important for supplies allocation to recognize that unique quality and plan appropriately for the Region.
In their most recent request, Virginia, Maryland and the District received a very small percentage of the equipment they asked for from FEMA. The District received no hospital ventilators, none of the safety goggles and hand sanitizer it asked for and received less than 1 percent of a requested 663,760 gloves and 1,132,478 respirator masks. Maryland got only 4,000 of the 200,000 requested nasal swabs and none of the viral transport media requested for COVID-19 testing. Additionally, Maryland only received less than a quarter of the 225,194 face shields and 421,532 respirator masks, and less than half of the 872,309 surgical masks requested. Virginia received none of the surgical masks or face shields it requested, and less than 8 percent of the 2,214,388 respirator masks and 3,386,976 gloves it sought. Virginia has also been told it will need to wait to receive its ventilator request for when the surge hits.
On April 4th, CDC’s Dr. Birx recognized that D.C. is on track to become one of the next hotspots. It is equally important to note that the hotspots in Virginia and Maryland reside in the National Capital Region. Surge data for Virginia would fail to predict the faster surge for the counties of the National Capital Region which have been more impacted. In addition, inadequate allocation of nasal swabs and the lack of allocation of viral transport media to Maryland in the most recent FEMA shipment will likely suppress Maryland’s true case numbers and thus the case counts in the National Capital Region as it becomes a hot spot. Further, deeply under-resourcing D.C. inherently means spillover to either Virginia or Maryland and vice versa. Our jurisdictions cannot wait until the surge is here if we need supplies now. We expect to become a new epicenter of infection in coming weeks despite the recently implemented “stay-at-home” orders.
We ask that you place a higher attention and consideration for supplies to the National Capital Region.
I will continue to call on all levels of government to work together to bring people in our region the help and care they need during these difficult times.