Northeast governors announce regional agreement to buy medical supplies

May 4, 2020

Healthcare workers in hazmat suits

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The governors of seven states have agreed to develop a regional supply chain for medical equipment, as they strive to reduce costs and ensure adequate supplies for healthcare workers and public safety personnel.

The governors announced the new initiative during a conference call on Sunday led by Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, who said the aim is to enable states to improve their market power and lower costs for personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, and other critical supplies, Politico reported.

The other states participating in the initiative are Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. Last month, the group of seven states said they would develop a regional framework for gradually lifting the stay-at-home orders and enabling people to return to work.

The new purchasing initiative comes in response to a frantic scramble for life-saving medical equipment nationwide, in which states have been competing against one another, private entities and the federal government, and driving up prices, Cuomo said in a joint press statement.

“As a state and as a nation we can’t go through that again,” said Cuomo, who estimated that the governors will collectively buy about $5 billion in medical supplies this year.

“Our states should never be in a position where we are actively competing against each other for life-saving resources,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, in the statement.

The states will also coordinate policies regarding the PPE inventory that each state’s health care system should have on hand to be prepared for a possible second wave of COVID-19 in the fall.

“We know that in order to safely reopen the economy, we need a long-term supply of PPE for all critical infrastructure workers,” said Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo.

Officials will identify suppliers located within their states or elsewhere in the nation who can scale to meet the demand of the entire region over the next three months. They also plan to explore alternative methods of production and emerging technologies, like 3D printers, that could help to slash costs.

“I’m thankful for this coordination with my fellow governors in the region,” said Delaware Governor John Carney. “We’ll be better positioned to continue tackling this crisis working together with the states around us.”

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