AUGUSTA, Maine — Thousands of pieces of essential personal protection equipment (PPE) will be distributed to health care workers across the state Monday, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention.
In a telephone press conference over the weekend, Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah told reporters warehouse workers were preparing to deliver the supplies. This as the number of positive cases in the state has reached 89.
Shah estimated roughly 22,000 pieces would be distributed, including nearly 2,400 N95 masks, 8,000 procedure/surgical masks, 2,000 face shields and 6,000 gloves.
"It's really alarming being a nurse on the front lines with such a contagious virus going around,” Andrea Dyer, a nurse at Central Maine Medical Center, told NEWS CENTER Maine.
Dyer is one of thousands of health care workers across the state who fear they do not have enough equipment to last through the pandemic.
“Not only to protect us but also to protect the patient,” Dyer said.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said last week it was deploying PPE to areas of need from a national stockpile.
Maine health officials are expecting FEMA to provide additional supplies to the state in the coming days, but even that will not meet the growing need.
"What is going to be delivered next is still not yet sufficient,” Dr. Shah said.
FEMA representatives are coordinating with Maine Emergency Management Agency officials to help navigate the process, but officials with MEMA still do not know exactly when more equipment from the national supply is expected to arrive.
"It's an ongoing effort. We are certainly facing the same problems that other states are facing,” MEMA spokesperson Susan Falloon said.
Much of the shortage nationwide is due to the fact that the manufacturing of supplies cannot keep up with a growing demand.
Governor Mills told NEWS CENTER Maine’s Pat Callaghan last week she was pressing the White House to take action to encourage greater production.
"I'm hoping the President takes his authority seriously under the Defense Production Act to order the manufacturing of ventilators and personal protective gear,” Mills said.
FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor told ‘Meet the Press’ Sunday that governors should try to purchase medical supplies on their own in the meantime.
“What I’ll say is if you can find it on the open market, go buy it,” Gaynor said. “Any governor that needs it, and you find it, go buy it. FEMA will reimburse you under this emergency.”
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