Tester to Pence: 79,000 Masks FEMA Promised Montana are Far Short of What We Need and Most Haven’t Been Delivered
Senator urges Vice President to implore Trump to use Defense Production Act: “The discrepancy here is staggering”
After Montana health officials notified the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that the state needs approximately 460,000 N95 masks, FEMA promised 79,486 masks to the state, and then delivered only 10,870-a staggering shortfall U.S. Senator Jon Tester is today imploring Vice President Mike Pence and the government’s Coronavirus Task Force to address immediately.
“Health care officials across Montana notified the Governor’s Coronavirus Task Force that we collectively need approximately 460,000 N95 respirator masks,” Tester wrote. “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.”
After the federal government delivered only 10,870 of the promised 79,486 masks last week, the State of Montana was able to purchase additional masks from neighboring states to help close the gap in 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.
Tester’s letter continues: “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 has been working tirelessly to ensure that Montana is prepared to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Late last week he joined his colleagues to urge Vice President Pence and the Task Force for more personal protective equipment and medical supplies, and has fought to ensure Montana families have enough to eat amidst the crisis. After 72 hours of negotiating for substantial, bipartisan improvements to COVID-19 stimulus legislation that had previously fallen far short, Tester voted to deliver critical, urgent relief to Montana workers, families, small businesses, hospitals and others hardest hit by the outbreak, including $1.25 billion for the state of Montana.
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