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May 4, 2020 12:45 PM, EDT

Northeast States Agree to Form Regional Supply Chain for Medical Equipment

Northeast StatesNew York Gov. Cuomo at an earlier press conference. (NYGovCuomo via YouTube)

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Leaders representing seven Northeastern states have partnered to develop a regional supply chain for personal protective equipment, medical gear and testing kits amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The governors of New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island and Massachusetts announced their multistate agreement May 3. Together, state leaders will identify the region’s needs and assess demand for goods such as PPE and medical supplies in order to reduce costs and stabilize the supply chain.

“Our states should never be in a position where we are actively competing against each other for life-saving resources,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said. “By working together across the region, we can obtain critical supplies as we begin the process to restart our economies, while also saving money for our taxpayers.”

Additionally, the states will coordinate policies regarding the inventory of PPE that each state’s health care system should have in the event of a second wave of COVID-19. States also will consider policies on supplies that may be needed for first responders, nonprofit organizations and private-sector groups.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a public briefing May 3 that included video calls with Murphy, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Delaware Gov. John Carney. Cuomo said there has been tight competition among states and private entities to secure medical equipment. He described the system of bidding against one another as inefficient and ineffective.

“This is not the way to deal with this situation,” Cuomo said. “Plus, we just drove up prices by our own competition. This was just a situation that nobody anticipated. You couldn’t get enough gowns; you couldn’t get enough masks.”

According to a notice from Murphy’s office, states will also identify suppliers within the region or country who can scale to meet the demand of the region over the next three months. In addition to promoting regional economic development, this approach is meant to reduce the potential for supply chain disruptions that may affect the availability of PPE, sanitizer, ventilators and tests.

“Our health care workers should never have to worry if we have enough PPE to keep them safe,” Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo said in a statement. “Over the past two months, we’ve been scouring the earth for supplies and have worked hard to meet the demand on the front lines. We know that, in order to safely reopen the economy, we need a long-term supply of PPE for all critical infrastructure workers.”

These states also are discussing ways to use technology to help with alternative methods of production for existing products. For example, 3D printers may serve as an alternative way to manufacture PPE and medical products.

“We can wait for the national stockpile; we can wait for that plane to land from China,” Lamont said. “Let’s see what we can do ourselves. We’re much stronger together.”

COVID-19 has been particularly devastating in the northeast. According to the New York State Department of Health, there have been 316,415 positive cases of COVID-19 reported in the state as of May 2. Cuomo said New York is putting into place a requirement that every hospital in the state maintain a 90-day supply of PPE.

“Every state is linked to every other state,” Cuomo said. “We do something in New York, it affects New Jersey, Connecticut [and] Delaware. It’s a very important relationship.”

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