U.S. Reps. Ted Yoho (R-FL) and Darren Soto (D-FL) introduced a bill to ensure the United States builds its stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE).
The American-Made Protection for Healthcare Workers and First Responders Act will address the PPE shortage and build the national stockpile of goods from American producers. It is also designed to eliminate the nation’s dependence on foreign adversaries’ supply chains during a crisis.
PPE is needed to protect first responders and healthcare workers while they are on the front lines battling the coronavirus. It includes gowns, helmets, gloves, face shields, goggles, facemasks (surgical masks), and respirators (like N95) or other equipment designed to protect the wearer from injury or the spread of infection. It also includes disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, ventilators, and respirators.
“I am honored to join Senator Scott and Congressman Soto in this bipartisan effort to provide America’s healthcare providers and first responders with the equipment they need to care for those affected by the coronavirus. It is imperative that we provide these brave men and women with the supplies they need to safely perform their important work,” Yoho said.
Se. Rick Scott (R-FL) introduced a companion bill in the U.S. Senate.
“Hospitals in Florida and across America are reaching crisis levels as they face shortages of basic supplies like facemasks, gowns, and gloves,” Soto said. “The coronavirus pandemic has inevitably shown us the importance of having American-made emergency stockpiles while limiting our dependence on foreign supply chains. Our bipartisan bill seeks to prioritize the production of resources needed to protect frontline health workers and ensure these catastrophic shortages never happen again.”
The bill authorizes the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to maintain its own Strategic National Stockpile of PPE and requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to maintain the stockpile. Further, it prohibits federal government agencies from procuring PPE from foreign suppliers. Also, it requires HHS to establish pre-disaster contracts for PPE to prepare in advance for any presidential public health emergency declaration to ensure producers can meet the needs of the public.