Northeast states will create a regional supply chain for personal protective equipment and medical supplies in an effort to save money and effectively distribute gear needed to reopen economies in the COVID-19 pandemic.
The seven states — Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania — will pool their resources to purchase and distribute masks, gowns, ventilators and other necessary equipment in advance of a potential second wave of coronavirus in the fall, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday.
New York will also require its hospitals to build up a 90-day supply of personal protective equipment by the fall, Cuomo said.
The announcement Sunday came after New York and the other states struggled to purchase necessary supplies from overseas manufacturers as the coronavirus rapidly spread throughout the globe, launching an international race to purchase gowns, masks, face shields, ventilators and other sought-after equipment.
As of Sunday, more than 19,000 New York residents have died of COVID-19 since the beginning of March.
At his daily coronavirus briefing in Manhattan, Cuomo — who was joined by video conference by the governors of New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Delaware — said the consortium of states will help increase their collective purchasing power and potentially identify American vendors who can meet their needs.
"We will buy as a consortium, price as a consortium for PPE equipment, ventilators, medical equipment — whatever we need to buy when you put all those hospitals, all that public health capacity together," Cuomo said. "It will make us more competitive in the international marketplace and I believe it will save taxpayers money."
The coalition will identify suppliers in the region that can scale up to meet the area's needs in the coming months, Cuomo said.
Those states banded together last month to form a regional council to coordinate a gradual easing of restrictions to contain the spread of the coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease.
New Jersey began lifting its lockdown measures on Saturday by reopening state and county parks and golf courses. But parents are bracing for the possibility that New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy will follow New York's lead and keep schools closed for the rest of the academic year. He's expected to announce his decision Monday.
Personal protective equipment, or PPE, is essential for health care workers and first responders if the states are going to reopen. In addition to identifying the region's needs and developing policies for hospitals, the states will also identify suppliers in the area who can scale up production over the next three months to try limiting disruptions in the supply chain.
The states are also exploring "emerging technologies" to produce alternatives, such as 3D printers to manufacture certain types of PPE and medical products.
Appearing during video conference during Cuomo's briefing, Murphy said having the states band together "makes so much sense" to ensure the states aren't competing against each other in the marketplace.
"The notion of coordinating together as a region makes a lot of sense, so sign me up and sign New Jersey up," Murphy said.