RICHMOND, Va. — Attorney General Mark Herring, along with 16 other attorneys general, is urging President Donald Trump to use the Defense Production Act and prioritize the production of masks and other critical items needed by health care workers facing possible exposure to coronavirus.
Hospitals, first responders and law enforcement agencies around the U.S. are facing a shortage of critical items needed to protect themselves when assisting COVID-19 patients.
Testing supplies are also in shortage and are only being prioritized for patients showing symptoms for COVID-19.
“We are in the middle of a public health crisis and we must do everything we can to give our healthcare providers, first responders, and law enforcement the resources and tools they need to fight this virus and keep themselves and others safe,” Herring said in the news release.
“I am joining my colleagues in sending this letter today because it is time that President Trump fully utilizes the Defense Production Act so that our country and our commonwealth can better be better prepared to handle this pandemic.”
Joining Herring in sending the letter are the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, Washington D.C., and Wisconsin.
The attorneys general urged President Trump to:
- Increase the health care capacity
- Increase the supply of PPEs (personal protective equipment) for health care workers, law enforcement and first responders
- Increase COVID-19 testing capacity
The letter to the president also stated that U.S. hospitals need more ventilators and ICU (intensive care unit) beds.
The most needed items include N95 respirators, surgical masks, face shields, eye protection, gloves, gowns, sanitizers, cleaning supplies, and thermometers.
Health officials in Virginia said at least 290 people have tested positive for the new coronavirus as of Tuesday, March 24.
Seven people in the state have died. Five of them lived in the Peninsula Health District. One person lived in Virginia Beach.
The other patient lived in Fairfax County.
Sentara has set up a drive-thru screening and testing locations in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Hampton. But the hours are limited depending on the number of testing supplies.