When the COVID-19 pandemic slammed New York City in March, the lack of PPE was glaringly obvious.
CBS2’s Jessica Moore met Vivi Guitart, an intensive care nurse desperate for proper protection.
“You’re always scrambling and nervous and hoping you get everything you need,” Guitart said back on April 1. “You really, really need better supplies. We need more of them because people are dying and it’s not right.”
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With surging cases of coronavirus across the country, and warnings of a second wave possible here in New York City, CBS2 wanted to know how well the city and state are prepared.
The state Department of Health initially told Moore, “The state has appropriate quantities of PPE and other supplies in our emergency stockpile.”
When pressed for specific numbers in the state’s PPE stockpile, she received the following response from Jonah Bruno, the director of information:
“Healthcare providers have a responsibility to ensure they have sufficient medical supplies for emergencies. The state will continue to work with providers to supplement their own stockpiles as the need arises,” Bruno said.
Mayor de Blasio’s office was more forthcoming, with a spokesman telling CBS2, “We’ve reached our goal of having 14 days of PPE on reserve and are building toward our 90-day goal. We expect to be there by fall.”
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PPE manufacturer Rakesh Tammabattula said New York City is on the right track with its 90-day supply target.
When asked what he thinks the standard should be for states right now to have stockpiled, Tammabattula said, “Given the technical production of these products, I’d say at least a three-month supply, so even if there was an emergency they that had to restock it, there would be sufficient time to produce it.”
Tammabattula said a huge issue during the first wave was the scramble to replenish PPE, with states and healthcare facilities forced to purchase supplies internationally, which isn’t affordable or safe.
“To avoid this long term we need to have a steady supply chain of this domestically and not rely on overseas or sources outside the country, when in times like this there’s no way for anyone to moderate or control the quality,” Tammabattula said.
Experts said that in March, most states, including New York, relied too heavily on the federal government for PPE and added making the same mistake again could be catastrophic.