Press Releases

Herrera Beutler, Delegation Call on Administration to Send More Ventilators to Washington, Develop National Production Strategy

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Washington, March 25, 2020 | comments
Today, Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03) joined the Washington congressional delegation in calling for the Trump administration to expeditiously fulfill Governor Jay Inslee’s request for 1,000 additional ventilators from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).
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Today, Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03) joined the Washington congressional delegation in calling for the Trump administration to expeditiously fulfill Governor Jay Inslee’s request for 1,000 additional ventilators from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).

“This request is of the utmost urgency as Washington state has disproportionately fewer ventilators and disproportionately more COVID-19 cases than the rest of nation,” said the lawmakers in a letter to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Peter Gaynor. FEMA is now the lead federal agency fulfilling requests from the SNS after President Trump recently declared COVID-19 a national emergency.

Data collected by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) and the American Association for Respiratory Care shows that Washington only has 13 ventilators per 100,000 people. Comparatively, the state median number of ventilators per 100,000 people is 20.5.

The letter also urges the Trump administration to create a national strategy for producing and allocating new ventilators informed from a recent Request for Information issued by HHS.

“We are hopeful that this information can be used to establish a national ventilator strategy. Such a strategy should include a national production goal and allocation plan coordinated by the federal government,” the lawmakers continued. “This will require strategic coordination to guarantee that every region of the country has the ventilators it needs as the virus spreads throughout our nation.”

The letter was signed by the entire Washington congressional delegation, including Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, and Representatives Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Denny Heck (WA-10), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Rick Larsen (WA-02), Cathy McMorris Rogers (WA-05), Dan Newhouse (WA-04), Kim Schrier (WA-08), and Adam Smith (WA-09).

The full text of the letter follows and is available here.

We write to you in full support of Governor Jay Inslee’s request of 1,000 ventilators from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) to be used for Washington state’s COVID-19 response. We understand that 500 ventilators have been approved, and that 500 more will be sent if the state determines the additional resources are needed. We urge that the initial 500 ventilators be delivered to Washington expeditiously. This request is of the utmost urgency as Washington state has disproportionately fewer ventilators and disproportionately more COVID-19 cases than the rest of nation.

The most recent data from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the American Association for Respiratory Care found that Washington has fewer than 13 ventilators per 100,000 people. Comparatively, the state median number of ventilators per 100,000 people is 20.5.

The number of ventilators is roughly equivalent to the number of intensive care unit (ICU) beds, and when Washington’s capacity is compared to other COVID-19 stricken nations, the figures display a potentially grim scenario for our state. Italy, which has the highest number of deaths from COVID-19, has 12.5 ICU beds per 100,000 people. We are seeing reports that due to the limited number of ventilators and overwhelming number of patients, physicians in Italy are forced to make the impossible choice of deciding which patients are more deserving of being saved.

Our hospitals across the region are growing more concerned that they could share the same trajectory as Italy and that in a short time the hospitals will be overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients as intensive care unit capacity is reached. We are alarmed by the parallels between Italy and Washington state and we implore you to act expeditiously to fulfill Governor Inslee’s request and immediately disburse ventilators from the SNS.

We also appreciate the Request for Information on ventilator manufacturing put out by HHS on March 21, 2020. We are hopeful that this information can be used to establish a national ventilator strategy. Such a strategy should include a national production goal and allocation plan coordinated by the federal government. This will require strategic coordination to guarantee that every region of the country has the ventilators it needs as the virus spreads throughout our nation.

We thank you for your commitment to meet Washington state’s need for more ventilators and remind you that hospitals across the state have already prepared crisis care standards to manage the impending wave of COVID-19 patients. The federal response will be deemed a success or failure based on whether those crisis care standards are implemented.

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