NEW CUMBERLAND, Pa. –
The Defense Department’s lead agency for logistics is receiving, processing and shipping 1.5 million N95 respirator masks for the Department of Health and Human Services as it assists nationwide nursing homes facing mask shortages for healthcare staff.
Defense Logistics Agency Distribution Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, received the masks Aug. 25 from the Strategic National Stockpile in Atlanta, Georgia. It will start shipping the masks to over 3,000 nursing homes Aug. 28, said DDSP Commander Army Col. Trenton Conner. Conner expanded further with a deep appreciation of his team’s effort. “The collective effort of our workforce is nothing short of exemplary. Working on-site and nearly around the clock to support those in need, our workforce clearly demonstrates its dedication and devotion to our nation. I am extremely proud of our team’s continued efforts supporting the battle against COVID-19.”
“This increase has allowed us to use our existing surge capacity built up in the stockpile to distribute 1.5 million masks to meet the needs of front-line healthcare workers caring for one of our most-affected populations. Our goal is to enable our states to provide longer term support in the fight against COVID-19,” Navy Rear Adm. John Polowczyk, HHS Supply Chain Task Force lead, said in an HHS press release.
DDSP will ship the masks to nursing homes that recently reported having enough supplies for only three days or less. Shipments will include enough masks to equip nursing homes’ entire staffs for seven days and will be based on the number of medical staff employed at the facility as reported to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services database. Each shipment will contain a 4:1 mix of regular- and small-sized respirators in keeping with historical distribution ratios from medical distributors.
The shipments support Medicare and Medicaid-approved nursing homes, which also received previous shipments of personal protective equipment to safeguard one of the nation’s most vulnerable populations.
The masks are being provided through the Defense Production Act, which uses presidential authority to expedite and expand the supply of materials and services from the U.S. industrial base. They are certified by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and made in the U.S.
State governors learned of the pending shipments Aug. 18 during a call with Vice President Mike Pence.