Last rounds of protective gear in national stockpile being shipped

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(CNN) — The Strategic National Stockpile is deploying the last round of shipments in its inventory, depleting the bulk of its protective gear, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The official added that the stockpile was never meant to serve as the only source of protective gear for the entire coronavirus response and said the states would need to get more supply from the private market. The official stressed that the stockpile, which is managed by the Department of Health and Human Services, will never be completely depleted as they always retain a small percentage for the most critical needs.

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump acknowledged that the stockpile is nearly depleted.

“It is. We are sending it directly to hospitals,” Trump said.

He added, “We have asked states where they have large manufacturers of different types of equipment to use those local factories, local plants, and have it made directly, ship it right into the hospitals.”

Since the start of the pandemic, officials have been sounding the alarm that there was never going to be enough gear for a 50-state response.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump said the government would hold onto 10,000 ventilators to ensure the government had the ability to deploy quickly if they need the units in the future.

According to one source familiar with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s role in procuring resources, the agency is assessing what is needed and what supplies are available across the globe. FEMA has begun chartering flights with critical supplies from across the world and facilitating the distribution to hotspots and the private sector.

FEMA said in a statement that the agency’s planning for the Covid-19 pandemic response “acknowledged that the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) alone could not fulfill all requirements at the State and tribal level. Therefore, as the Vice President stated last night, the federal government will exhaust all means to identify and attain medical and other supplies needed to combat the virus.”

A Department of Homeland Security official told CNN the stockpile is “near depletion because the numbers are low.”

“When you see demand is outpacing supply, then we go to the people (states) who are asking for equipment and ask if they are exhausting all of their sources,” the official said. “We are having to balance places that don’t have any (personal protective equipment), versus someone on the verge, but not there yet.”

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