Amid a continued scarcity in medical equipment in the face of the coronavirus outbreak, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware will be joining a multi-state consortium aimed at providing a regional supply chain of the much-needed gear.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Delaware Gov. John Carney announced their cooperation in a Sunday afternoon news conference hosted by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The three states will be joined by New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
All seven states will work jointly to create a supply chain of medical equipment including personal protective equipment, ventilators and coronavirus tests.
“Our states should never be in a position where we are actively competing against each other for life-saving resources,” Murphy said in a prepared statement. “By working together across the region, we can obtain critical supplies as we begin the process to restart our economies, while also saving money for our taxpayers.”
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A lack of medical equipment and tests has been a problem since the outset of the outbreak in the U.S., with states complaining about being pitted against one another in bidding wars for equipment often manufactured in China.
Carney highlighted the problems with such a purchasing system for a state as small as his.
“If we’re going head-to-head with New York, we’re not going to get [the medical equipment],” Carney said. “If we’re along shoulder-to-shoulder with [Gov. Cuomo] and with Gov. Murphy and Gov. Wolf, we’ve got a good chance of getting a better price and of getting the product that we need.”
For his part, Wolf praised the benefits of a combined market size “to encourage producers to make what we need,” including testing kits to give people the confidence to go back to work and resume normal activities without fearing infection.
The consortium won't be focuses solely at purchasing, though, with governors highlighting their desire to manufacture their own equipment.
In Pennsylvania, some 51,879 people have been diagnosed as positive for the virus, while at least 2,673 had died as of May 3. New Jersey has been one of the hardest hit states, with 126,744 cases and 7,871 deaths. Delaware, much smaller than the other two states, has experienced at least 5,208 infections and 177 deaths.