A report released Wednesday by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform showed the U.S. has distributed 11.7 million N95 masks and 7,920 ventilators from the Strategic National Stockpile so far. The numbers, released in a document provided by the Department of Health and Human Services, fall far short of states’ estimated equipment needs to fight the pandemic.
President Donald Trump provided similar numbers during a Tuesday press briefing. He said the White House had provided 8,000 ventilators, 11.7 million N95 masks and 26.5 million surgical masks to states. But supplies are also running low, as revealed by a Washington Post report last week. Vice President Mike Pence confirmed that the Strategic National Stockpile “has been largely deployed.”
He said the U.S. would replenish the stockpile using equipment being flown in from other countries, with roughly 10% of the equipment going into the stockpile and the other 90% being deployed through medical distributors to New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Louisiana, Michigan and Illinois. He also said the U.S. still had 9,000 ventilators in reserve.
Given that we don’t know definitely how many cases of Covid-19 there are in the U.S., it’s difficult to predict exactly how many masks, gloves or respirators hospitals will need. Those numbers can also fluctuate based on how well states follow social distancing guidelines.
In early March, HHS officials estimated that the U.S. would need a total of 3.5 billion N95 masks over the next year, if faced with a Covid-19 pandemic. The HHS has not specified a number for how many ventilators the U.S. will need to combat the pandemic, but a survey of 213 mayors estimated a need for a total of 139,000 ventilators. Just in the last week, New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio said the city needed 400 additional ventilators and 3.3 million N95 masks.
“Every single week, we’re going to need more of that,” he said.
The state has reported more than 151,000 cases and 6,268 deaths as of April 8, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Ventilators, at least, can be redistributed. California is lending 500 ventilators to the Strategic National Stockpile, and Washington, which saw an earlier surge of the virus, is returning 400 to the stockpile. Oregon has also sent 140 ventilators to New York.
But other states still face a significant shortage. Massachusetts, which has requested 1,700 ventilators, has only received 100. Colorado, which saw its order of 500 ventilators intercepted by FEMA, is slated to receive just 100. They have reported 16,790 cases and 5,655 cases of Covid-19 respectively.
Here’s a breakdown of what states with the most reported Covid-19 cases have received, according to data from the Strategic National Stockpile’s PPE distribution report: