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‘Gut-Wrenching’ Equipment Shortage Requires Immediate Action from Trump

Photo Credit: Getty / Misha Friedman / Stringer
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By Jessica Powell ·

As COVID-19 continues to spread, health care workers, first responders and the countless other public service workers on the front lines of the fight to quell the pandemic are doing heroic work. But growing shortages of masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) are increasingly endangering them.

AFSCME President Saunders and other labor leaders on Thursday called on Congress to pass legislation introduced by U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) to boost the production of PPE.

Introduced earlier this week, the Medical Supply Chain Emergency Act  would force President Donald Trump to implement the Defense Production Act of 1950 and federalize the production and distribution of scarce in-demand supplies such as N-95 respirator masks.

“The horror show unfolding before us is gut-wrenching. The least the president can do is stand up to the Chamber of Commerce, pick up a pen and demand the production of essential medical gear,” Saunders told reporters. “To see pictures of nurses in New York City hospitals wearing garbage bags because they don’t have personal protective equipment is utterly shameful. What happens to them when they get sick? What happens to their patients? This is a train wreck happening in slow motion right before our eyes.”

Trump's continued resistance to using his emergency powers to order companies to ramp up the production of vital medical supplies has sparked a chorus of criticism. Trump has misled the nation by saying PPE production is being ramped up, when that’s clearly not the case. Public service workers on the front lines are left without the proper gear, and are fighting each other across state lines in a bidding war for supplies, according to Murphy and Schatz.

“This is an incredibly important issue fixing a very broken medical supply chain at a crisis moment for our country,” Murphy said. “The most critical issue in our health care system is the lack of adequate equipment to protect our front-line health care workers and to make sure that we can test everyone that is symptomatic and has been in contact with someone who is symptomatic.”

The Medical Supply Chain Emergency Act would require the president to:

“This is not a partisan issue. Republican and Democratic senators, governors and health officials have urged President Trump to fully implement the Defense Production Act,” Saunders said. “It really isn’t that hard when you consider the stakes.”

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