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U.S. Reps. Lauren Underwood and Bill Foster are among the Illinois members of Congress who have called on President Donald Trump to do more to address the need for personal protective equipment during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The legislators urged the administration to immediately implement a federally coordinated effort to meet the state’s needs for PPE, according to a news release.
Although they acknowledged some help with requests for equipment, Underwood and Foster said they remain concerned it won’t meet the “alarming” demand.
The members of Congress outlined what they called the “life-threatening” shortage of respirators, masks, protective eyewear, face shields, gloves, gowns and other protective equipment for health care workers and first responders.
“We continue to receive tearful phone calls from nurses who have worn the same single-use masks for five consecutive days while caring for patients with COVID-19,” the members wrote.
The legislators urged the administration to order the full-scale deployment of every public and private resource in the U.S. to ensure health care providers and first responders have the protective equipment they need.
They acknowledged the “entrepreneurial spirit” they said American businesses and families have shown in stepping up to help with PPE production, but they said it wouldn’t be enough. The members said these efforts cannot replace the “strong federal leadership required by a public health crisis of this magnitude.”
They also cited “weeks of unacceptable confusion” reported by state public officials and health care providers as they sought help from federal agencies for their PPE needs.
Congress members cited their own efforts through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, in which they appropriated $16 billion to replenish the PPE supply in the Strategic National Stockpile.
“Our doctors are terrified that they might be spreading the virus to the very people they are trying to save,” the members wrote. “The federal government must act now. … The safety of our communities and the lives of our neighbors depend on it, and Illinois cannot wait another day.”
U.S. Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin, and Reps. Bobby Rush, Robin Kelly, Chuy Garcia, Mike Quigley, Sean Casten, Danny Davis, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Jan Schakowsky, Bradley Schneider and Cheri Bustos all signed the letter.