Officials respond to need for more medical supplies amid COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 4:48 PM, Mar 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-18 18:24:13-04

(WXYZ) — With coronavirus cases on the rise, hospitals will soon need more supplies.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Wednesday morning that she’s working with private industry to start making medical gear, and now that the president has invoked the Defense Production Act, the feds can start getting supplies to hospitals as well.

A new effort is underway to get more medical supplies to health care workers in Michigan and across the country who are fighting the war against the coronavirus.

On Wednesday morning, Gov. Whitmer told MSNBC she wants to work directly with private industry in our state: “We’re working with our private industry in Michigan to start to manufacture medical gowns and equipment, because we’re not getting them from the feds.”

Hours later, President Donald Trump announced a move that should help get supplies to hospitals that need them.

“We’ll be invoking the Defense Production Act, just in case we need it,” said President Trump during the daily coronavirus briefing.

That act gives the president authority to push private companies to work on national emergency items first, just like Detroit automakers once shifted production from cars to tanks for wartime.

Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence called on hospitals and dentists to postpone any elective procedures to preserve masks and protective gear.

“Across the country in our health care system, to ensure that medical supplies and medical capacity go where they’re needed most,” said Pence during the briefing.

Even as Beaumont Health announced their first patient death from coronavirus Wednesday, their Medical Director of Infection Control assured the public that so far their medical gear supply is stable.

“We’ve had dozens of cases within our Beaumont hospitals, all 8 different hospitals," said epidemiologist Dr. Nick Gilpin. "As of right now we feel adequately staffed and adequately resourced. We’re constantly having these conversations with our sister organizations throughout the state, and with state lawmakers, to make sure that, should the need arise, we can have access to things like ventilators and other medical equipment that might be necessary. I’m happy to say as of right now, we feel well stocked.”

7 Action News also reached out to Ascension Michigan. Spokeswoman Melissa Thrasher released this statement to us about supplies:

“We are taking proactive steps with our distributor and suppliers to ensure access to supplies. We are arranging expedited shipments directly from manufacturers, assessing alternative products and taking advantage of our abilities as a national system to make intra-hospital inventory transfers when appropriate. We have also implemented conservation measures, in anticipation of further supply chain disruption over the coming months due to COVID-19.”