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Larson Calls For Nationalizing PPE Supply Chain

Congressman John Larson spoke outside Hartford Hospital Monday to advocate for nationalizing supply chains for personal protective equipment. 

The re-elected first district representative said he’ll re-introduce legislation on the topic, as national hospitalization numbers continue to rise, and the U.S. total case count hovers around 10 million

"All the more reason that we need to be all over this and united," Larson said. "I think this will provide the country an opportunity to come together in common defense of a common enemy, COVID-19."

Milrose Mercado, who is in charge of the supply chain across the Hartford HealthCare network, said finding reliable sources of PPE is still difficult. In the absence of a clear federal plan, she said health systems are stockpiling on their own, doing group purchases, and buying overseas.

"We've established relationships in China, Vietnam, Korea, Thailand, Malaysia," she said. "Direct factory relationships."

The announcement comes as president-elect Joe Biden said he would like "to fully use the Defense Production Act" to ramp up domestic production of masks, face shields, and other PPE, "so that the national supply of personal protective equipment exceeds demand."

Copyright 2020 Connecticut Public

Patrick Skahill is a reporter at WNPR. He covers science and the environment. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of WNPR's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached by phone at 860-275-7297 or by email: pskahill@ctpublic.org.