Governor Janet Mills today pressed the Federal government to provide more Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and testing supplies to the State of Maine. In a letter to Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, Governor Mills requested that the Federal government expedite the release of PPE from the Strategic National Stockpile and pushed for “a steady and reliable supply” of testing materials as the outbreak intensifies.
The request from the Governor regarding PPE comes after Maine received a limited disbursement from the Strategic National Stockpile. The State also placed an early order through a private manufacturer, which it hopes to receive in the coming days. While Maine will continue to pursue other sources of PPE, the State has exhausted the options within its control and is relying on the Federal government to meet this urgent need.
“In the setting of a national emergency, states should not have to struggle with equipping front-line providers with PPE given the supplies on hand at the SNS. At present, the demand from providers and first responders in our state will soon outstrip our available supply, even with the initial distribution,” Governor Mills wrote. “The sooner that SNS can distribute additional PPE, the sooner that the State of Maine can work with the health care system in Maine to distribute those supplies and ensure our readiness before our health care system experiences a surge in cases.”
The Governor also noted that, although the Maine CDC has testing materials now, the availability of testing kits and testing reagents is a challenge. She emphasized the importance of “a steady and reliable supply moving forward as the outbreak intensifies” and asked to know “how the limited supplies of PPE and testing materials will be allocated to states and how extensive those supplies are.” She specifically wanted to know whether and to what degree the Federal government will consider the age of a state’s population as a factor in their decision, given that Maine has the oldest median age of any state in the nation.