FEMA to Congress: US still facing PPE supply issues

With southern states facing a surge in new Coronavirus cases and a jump in virus deaths, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency told Congress Wednesday that the nation still faces challenges in terms of supplies of Personal Protective Equipment for medical personnel to fight the virus.

"We still have many months to go before we start making enough in the U.S. to supply the demand," FEMA chief Pete Gaynor told a House hearing.

"We have a ways to go in making sure we have enough PPE," Gaynor said. "And as cases grow in the Sunbelt, demands goes up."

“This is not as simple as just throwing a light switch and we just magically make more,” Gaynor added, as he told lawmakers his agency is constantly fielding calls about new domestic suppliers.

“I receive phone calls from mayors, I receive phone calls from governors about a local producer had PPE,” Gaynor said.

The FEMA chief told lawmakers the U.S. continues to import most masks, gowns, and other protective equipment from China, Malaysia, and other Asian producers.

The hearing also branched off into other issues, as Democrats pressed the FEMA chief on whether the Trump Administration would be using emergency money to help schools with PPE.

Gaynor’s answer was any money for those needs would not be coming from FEMA funds.

Democrats said the evidence on the ground shows much more needs to be done by the federal government.

“The Trump Administration’s response to the Coronavirus has been an abject failure,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS).

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