Press Releases

Simpson, Fulcher join Pacific Northwest Colleagues Requesting more Ventilators for Region; Risch and Crapo Support Request

Washington, March 20, 2020

Idaho Congressmen Mike Simpson and Russ Fulcher joined Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05), and Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) along with 15 other members of Congress from the Pacific Northwest Region sending Vice President Pence a joint letter expressing the great need for ventilators for the region. The most recent data from HHS and the American Association for Respiratory Care found that Washington and Oregon only have 13 ventilators per 100,000 people and Idaho only has 12 ventilators per 100,000. Comparatively the state median number of ventilators per 100,000 people is 20.5. Therefore, the Pacific Northwest Region needs more ventilators. The request comes following DOD announcing 2,000 additional ventilators being made available to HHS. 

In part, the letter reads, “Unfortunately, we fear that the existing availability of ventilators may prove to not be enough. According to an analysis published in Health Affairs projected that a possible 20.5 million Americans could require hospitalization due to COVID-19 and that that if the infection curve is not flattened and the pandemic peaks over 6 months there would be a needs gap of 295,350 ICU beds. We urge the White House to convene every ventilator manufacturer with the purpose of developing a collective national manufacturing goal to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.”

“The White House Coronavirus Task Force has been incredibly responsive to our requests and I believe they are using all available resources to help the American people,” said Congressman Mike Simpson. “We’ve reached out for additional ventilators for our states, as we are in dire need for more devices.”

“Proud to sign on to a letter with my fellow members from the Pacific Northwest to request more ventilators to our region. Our letter points out that Idaho, Oregon, and Washington hospitals have reported a shortage of ventilators,” said Congressman Russ Fulcher. “We’re asking that priority go to those states where the shortage is most acute. Ventilators assist or replace respiratory functions, getting oxygen into the blood for vital organs. They are a major supportive treatment for patients in the critical stage of COVID-19.”

 

“I thank Representatives Simpson and Fulcher for their leadership in the House on efforts give health care providers access to ventilators necessary to care for COVID-19 patients,” said Senator Mike Crapo. “I am continuing to work with my colleagues in the Senate to ensure health care systems have all of the resources they need to care for COVID-19 patients and to further reduce the virus’ spread across the country.”

 

“Ventilators are a critical lifeline for people suffering from serious respiratory failure. Under the dire circumstances presented to us by the COVID-19 outbreak, it is essential that we get ventilators to Idaho health care providers as rapidly as possible,” said Senator James Risch. “I applaud Representatives Simpson and Fulcher leadership on this issue and look forward to supporting their efforts in the Senate.”

 

Full text of the letter follows and to view a letter with signatures please click here:

 

March 20, 2020

 

The Honorable Michael R. Pence

Vice President of the United States

The White House

Office of the Vice President

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, DC 20500

 

 

Dear Vice President Pence:

 

As you know, the Pacific Northwest, and Washington state specifically, has been the region most impacted by the outbreak of COVID-19. That is why were pleased to see Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announce that he will be offering 2,000 ventilators to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The resources are especially needed in the Pacific Northwest which has disproportionately fewer ventilators than the rest of the county. The most recent data from HHS and the American Association for Respiratory Care found that Washington and Oregon only have 13 ventilators per 100,000 people and Idaho only has 12 ventilators per 100,000. Comparatively the state median number of ventilators per 100,000 people is 20.5.

Our hospitals across the region have grown more concerned that in a short time they will be overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients as intensive care unit capacity is reached. The number of ventilators is roughly equivalent to the number of intensive care unit (ICU) beds. Italy, which has had the worst COVID-19 outbreak outside of China, has 12.5 ICU beds per 100,000 people. We have seen reports that due to the limited number of ventilators and overwhelming number of patients, physicians in Italy have been forced to make the impossible decision of rationing which patients are more deserving of being saved.

 

We are alarmed by the parallels between Italy and the Pacific Northwest and urge you to prioritize states that have been the hardest hit and have the fewest ventilators per person. We appreciate the supplies that have been distributed from the National Strategic National Stockpile and remind you that the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) as well is dire in our region. Some hospitals are reporting that they have only enough PPE on hand to last a few more days.

Unfortunately, we fear that the existing availability of ventilators may prove to not be enough. According to an analysis published in Health Affairs projected that a possible 20.5 million Americans could require hospitalization due to COVID-19 and that that if the infection curve is not flattened and the pandemic peaks over 6 months there would be a needs gap of 295,350 ICU beds. We urge the White House to convene every ventilator manufacturer with the purpose of developing a collective national manufacturing goal to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. The stories that have come out of Italy are heart wrenching but we are hopeful that with strategic decision making we can avoid a similar outcome.

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