WASHINGTON, Va. (WAVY) — With the passage of the $2.2 trillion stimulus package Wednesday night, the bill would provide $130 billion to hospitals, but senators are concerned about the amount of resources available to healthcare workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
“How do we get them the supplies and tools that they need?” Virginia Sen. Mark Warner said.
Warner wants the president to take full advantage of the Defense Production Act, to be sure hospitals get critical equipment and supplies.
“This is not going to be solved community-by-community or even state-by-state, this is going to take a national effort. The president has been granted this authority, he needs to use it,” Warner said.
President Donald Trump says he hasn’t forced companies to manufacture medical supplies because they are volunteering to help, and he says FEMA is already coordinating large shipments to hospitals in need.
However, the senators worry there’s not enough in the pipeline and that coronavirus patients will overwhelm our hospitals.
“Those images in Italy are horrifying but they could happen right here in the United States if we don’t see more national leadership in getting this organized,” Warner said.
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin says our health system continues to suffer a lack of vital supplies.
“We don’t have enough testing, so you really don’t know. You are prepared in the hospital? You have ventilators? Do you have respirators? Are you able to take care of breathing because we know that’s where it attacks first,” Manchin said.
Some hospitals have requested public donations of personal protective equipment during this shortage, but lawmakers that’s only a stopgap solution and the federal government needs to step up now.