Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Representative Stephen F. Lynch (MA-08) along with U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA0), and U.S. Representatives Richard E. Neal (MA-01), James P. McGovern (MA-02), William Keating (MA-09), Joseph P. Kennedy III (MA-04), Katherine Clark (MA-05), Seth Moulton (MA-06), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and Lori Trahan (MA-03) sent a letter raising serious concerns to the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) regarding the lack of transparency and consistency in the distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE). There is currently a shortage of PPE like respirators, ventilators, masks, and more, and Massachusetts and other states are struggling to acquire this life-saving equipment amid the coronavirus pandemic. In their letter, the lawmakers call on FEMA and the White House COVID-19 Task Force to provide regular updates on federal distributions of PPE and other related medical supplies, including detailed information on allocation methodologies, supply availability, shipment dates, and contents. 

“Massachusetts has still received significantly less than even the Commonwealth’s initial request from the Strategic National Stockpile” the Massachusetts Congressional delegation wrote. “The lack of transparency and information from the federal government about the allocation and availability of PPE is highly problematic. State and local leaders have said that it has prompted bidding wars between states, cities, and towns desperate for equipment.”

The letter also calls on FEMA and the White House Task Force to avoid furthering health care disparities with the distribution of PPE and equipment.

“We cannot allow this crisis to further exacerbate disparities in health outcomes simply because of where people live or work and, ultimately, the health care facilities to which they have access in their neighborhoods” wrote the lawmakers. “Health care workers at every hospital, health care center, and clinic where COVID-19 testing and treatment occurs deserve access to the appropriate PPE and medical supplies needed to ensure their safety and combat this pandemic. That includes our safety-net hospitals and community health centers that serve our nation’s vulnerable patients.

In their letter, the Massachusetts Congressional delegation asked for responses to several questions, including:

  • Has the Administration or FEMA conducted a national assessment of PPE and medical supplies needed to respond to the crisis?
  • Does the Administration or FEMA have projections for fulfilling states’ PPE requests from the Strategic National Stockpile over the next week, two weeks, one-month, or three months?
  • Does the Administration or FEMA plan to provide regular and detailed guidance on the allocation methodologies for the provision of PPE to the states, supply availability, the timing of distributions, and the accuracy of contents?
  • Has the Administration or FEMA conducted, or do you have plans to conduct, an equity assessment of the allocation process to ensure PPE and medical supplies are reaching areas with the greatest need, including historically underserved communities?

You can read the letter here.