As medical supplies dwindle, Gov. Charlie Baker says his administration has put in hours and hours trying to get healthcare workers the equipment they need to treat the growing number of COVID-19 patients.
However, officials continue to run into a familiar hurdle: the federal government, which has been competing with the states and offering them superior offers.
And after raising the issue with President Donald Trump last week, Baker expressed growing frustration during a press conference on Thursday afternoon about the link his administration was in. Trump urged states to order their own personal protective equipment, or PPE, instead of relying on federal reserves. Baker says his administration followed that advice, making its own requests for "millions,quot; of masks and swabs, just to see how the federal government takes them away.
"I am here as someone who has confirmed that orders for millions of pieces of equipment are evaporating in front of us, and I cannot say how frustrating it is," the Massachusetts governor said Thursday.
"Now we have other pending orders that are probably & # 39; confirmed & # 39 ;, but we have literally reached the point where our basic position is up to God, until the thing appears here in the community of Mass., Not so " it doesn't exist, ”continued Republican Swampscott. "I tell you that people spend hours and hours trying to get this here for exactly that reason. Our first responders, our healthcare workers, all deserve to have that team. And I tell you that we are killing ourselves trying to make this happen."
How The Washington Post reported this week, the shortage of PPE has forced states and hospitals to fight desperately, sometimes making creative efforts, for masks, gowns, and fans. And while some local companies have tried to address the deficit, states have asked the federal government for help, or at least more coordination.
Baker called the process "an incredibly messy scrub that is enormously frustrating for all of us."
"There are many very compassionate and very brave people here in the community, who are doing everything they can to serve people," he said, adding that "in this particular area, the whole country is struggling to deliver."
So far, Trump has refused to use his authority to direct private companies to boost production of necessary medical supplies. And according to multiple reports, the federal government's strategic medical supply arsenal is not equipped to respond to the pandemic. Marylou Sudders, Massachusetts secretary of Health and Human Services, said Thursday that only 17 percent of the state's requests for the reserve have been met.
But for Baker, "one of the biggest challenges,quot; has been that the Trump administration is competing with states for supplies in the private market. Unable to compete with the purchasing power of the federal government, it is a problem not exclusive to Massachusetts, he noted.
"I can't tell you how frustrated the governors, including this one, are about the problem associated with the order's landing," Baker said Thursday. "It has happened to us. It has happened to many governors across the country."
During recent calls with the Trump administration, Baker said "our great message to them is to let us land the order." He added that officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency discussed "creating a more coordinated approach,quot; during a phone call Thursday morning.
"I think this is going to be critical to our ability as a country, it doesn't matter as a community, to have access to the personal protective equipment that people need to do this job and do it well," Baker said.