Trump Administration Recommits to Ship 68,000 N95 Masks to Address Montana’s Initial Shortfall, Tester Vows Accountability ‘until every last mask is in the hands of folks that need it’
Secures commitment to address initial shortfall; Earlier today Senator urged Vice President to implore Trump to get supplies to Montana
After pressure from U.S. Senator Jon Tester, the federal government committed to a shipment of 68,000 N95 masks to Montana to arrive in three installments over the next two days. This action comes after Montana health officials notified the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that the state needs approximately 460,000 total masks.
In March, the Administration committed to send 79,486 masks to the state, and then delivered only 10,870-a staggering shortfall that Tester implored Vice President Mike Pence and the government's Coronavirus Task Force to address immediately.
"I hope this means welcome progress for Montana's frontline health care workers-but until every last mask the federal government promised our state is in the hands of the folks that need it, this is no time for a victory lap," Tester said. "The truth is, we continue to have a staggering shortfall in personal protective equipment-equipment the federal government has a responsibility to provide through its vast resources, including the Strategic National Stockpile, and I'll be keeping my foot on the gas to get these critically-needed supplies to Montana."
After the federal government delivered only 10,870 of the promised 79,486 masks, the State of Montana was able to purchase additional masks from a neighboring state to help close the gap in initial federal supplies-however with a total of 460,000 masks needed, Tester warned that this effort does not nearly begin to address the state's shortfall:
"Health care officials across Montana notified the Governor's Coronavirus Task Force that we collectively need approximately 460,000 N95 respirator masks," Tester wrote to Pence earlier today. "On March 30th, I was assured that 79,486 masks were on their way to Montana via three separate shipments. While far short of our needs, it represented a starting point that would hopefully get the state through initial waves of the COVID-19 outbreak. But upon delivery of these shipments, Montana discovered it only received 10,870 masks. The discrepancy here is staggering and the lack of coordination and communication meant the state had an unanticipated 60,000 mask shortfall that that needed immediate attention."
Tester's letter continued: "Fortunately, Governor Bullock successfully secured 60,000 masks through other means, but this situation highlights the inadequate planning and coordination of the federal government's vast resources, including the Strategic National Stockpile. I respectfully request that you ensure we receive an expeditious answer as to what date Montana can expect to receive the outstanding N95 respirator masks."
Tester noted that Montana has received insufficient support from the Administration's Strategic National Stockpile, and once again implored the Administration to make full use of the Defense Production Act. And he reiterated his call for the Administration to further activate the VA's Fourth Mission to serve as the backup health care provider for the nation in times of national emergency.
Tester's letter to Vice President Pence is available HERE.
Visit tester.senate.gov/coronavirusresources for a list of resources for Montanans during the COVID-19 outbreak