With Shortages Worsening, NH Delegation Again Calls for Federal Agencies to Deliver Urgently Needed PPE & Medical Supplies to NH

April 09, 2020

**Delegation highlights that NH has only received 32 percent of the total requested N95 respirator masks, 27 percent of swabs requested, 5 percent of the requested gowns, 4 percent of the requested non-latex gloves and none of the requested ventilators.**

(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Representatives Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Chris Pappas (NH-01) again raised the alarm on the urgent need for the Trump administration to deliver medical supplies to New Hampshire, including personal protective equipment (PPE). In a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Peter Gaynor, the delegation requested rapid assistance to ensure New Hampshire health care providers have the supplies needed to address the surge of coronavirus cases the state is experiencing. The letter reflects concerns that the delegation has heard from New Hampshire health care providers and first responders who need more supplies and need more information from federal agencies on supply availability in order to plan actions to meet the growing caseload of coronavirus cases in the state.

The delegation previously wrote to HHS and FEMA on March 26 expressing their deep concern over the agencies’ poor response to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services’ (NH DHHS) request for medical supplies. In their letter today, the delegation noted that while supplies have been reaching the state, they have failed to meet the current demand.

The delegation wrote, “Shortages have grown critical for many supplies, including N95 respirator masks, nasal swabs, reagents, face shields and gowns. The state has also requested additional ventilators to meet the growing surge of COVID-19 cases at hospitals and care facilities.… While New Hampshire health care providers and first responders have received intermittent shipments to partially fulfill the request from NH DHHS, these shipments fall far short of the current need for critical equipment. With New Hampshire frontline organizations already reporting dire shortages of supplies to respond to the coronavirus, the state’s request must be met with a more substantial federal commitment of support.” 

The delegation continued, “Coronavirus cases and deaths in New Hampshire continue to rise. Local entities are doing everything they can to prepare themselves and respond to this crisis, including increasing statewide bed capacity and finding creative solutions to make more ventilators available. NH DHHS has been working to maintain its own stock of supplies for these local entities; however, it is depleted and cannot keep up with the current demand. Federal support is necessary to fill the existing gaps in protective equipment and supplies in New Hampshire.”

“…However, to date, your agencies have only provided 32 percent of the total requested N95 respirator masks, 27 percent of swabs requested, 5 percent of the requested gowns, 4 percent of the requested non-latex gloves and none of the requested ventilators…Supplies continue to be sent in a piecemeal fashion with inconsistent timelines and have included expired supplies and latex supplies that cannot be used in all medical settings due to allergies.”

The delegation closed their letter by requesting that the agencies provide information on how the needs of New Hampshire health care providers and first responders will be met as quickly as possible.

The letter can be read in full here.

Yesterday, Senator Shaheen called on FEMA to prioritize COVID-19 testing kits for New Hampshire in reaction to the agency’s inadequate response to date, which includes 15 testing machines but only 120 testing kits for the entire state. New Hampshire has reported 788 cases of COVID-19 as of April 9.