PHILADELPHIA, PA — More than 30 mayors from across Pennsylvania were among 113 city leaders nationwide petitioning the federal government to use its emergency powers to ramp up production of critical medical supplies like ventilators and masks, and to centrally distribute those materials.
“As a local elected official and EMS Chief on the front lines of this crisis, I see every day the sacrifices our health professionals make to protect public health. It’s time for leaders in Washington to have our back,” said Mayor John Henry of West View. “The federal government must do its job coordinating national disaster response to get us the masks and ventilators we need to save lives. Every minute counts.”
Health experts warn that a dearth of medical supplies — from ventilators to N95 masks — needed to safely treat people infected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) could lead to higher infection and death rates. However, the federal government and all 50 states are competing with each other to procure and distribute those crucial items.
“We are currently experiencing a world-wide pandemic with the advent of COVID-19,” said Mayor Rohan K. Hepkins of Yeadon Borough. “This virus has left a scourge on our nation the likes of which not seen before in most of our lifetimes. It therefore calls for a unified and cogent national response. A declaration of war presupposes that all resources be collectively brought to bear to stay ahead of the Impending curve. So we call on or national government to unite us in that one singular goal – let’s defeat this virus by utilizing all available tools so that we can win this war and restore our nation”
The letter started by PennPIRG Education Fund’s national affiliate, U.S. PIRG Education Fund, calls for the federal government to increase production of medical supplies and immediately establish a “medical equipment czar” and associated task force with the mission of overseeing the national supply and distribution of medical equipment for the duration of the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis.
While the president has given authority to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to increase production and oversee allocation of medical equipment, that authority has not been put to full use.
In addition, the mayors are demanding that this federal task force implement full transparency to the public and its state and local partners about resource needs and allocation.
“We don’t have time to waste,” said PennPIRG Associate Emma Horst-Martz. “As soon as possible, we need to make sure that medical providers and first responders have the protective equipment they need. And we need to make sure that hospitals get more ventilators so that those medical providers can save the lives of thousands of Americans who will soon flood our hospitals.”
The 37 PA mayors who spoke out are:
- Mayor Dwan Walker of Aliquippa
- Mayor Jeanne Sorg of Ambler
- Mayor Hannah Sweet of Arona
- Mayor Emily Marburger of Bellevue
- Mayor Robert Donchez of Bethlehem
- Mayor James Schlegel of Borough of Kutztown
- Mayor Chardae Jones of Braddock
- Mayor Mark Barbee of Bridgeport
- Mayor Michael Hess of Brookhaven Borough
- Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland of Chester
- Mayor Yaniv Aronson of Conshohocken
- Mayor Nickole Nesby of Duquesne
- Mayor Aidsand Wright-Riggins of Collegeville
- Mayor Alanna Gaudiello of Derry
- Mayor Sal Panto of Easton
- Mayor John Dukes, Jr. of East Lansdowne
- Mayor Debbie Mahon of Hulmeville
- Mayor Danene Sorace of Lancaster
- Mayor Sean Strub of Milford
- Mayor Matthew Shorraw of Monessen
- Mayor Gregory Garry of Monongahela
- Mayor Thomas App of Morton
- Mayor Andrea Deutsch of Narberth
- Mayor Nicki Todaro of Newell
- Mayor Sonya Sanders of Norristown
- Mayor Daniel Berard of Northumberland
- Mayor Robert Winkler of Penndel Borough
- Mayor William Peduto of Pittsburgh
- Mayor Kevin Cunningham of Rutledge
- Mayor Matthew Rudzki of Sharpsburg
- Mayor Ron Filippelli of State College
- Mayor Marty Spiegel of Swarthmore Borough
- Mayor Dianne Herrin of West Chester
- Mayor Debra Larouche of West Middlesex
- Mayor John Henry of West View
- Mayor Marita Garrett of Wilkinsburg
- Mayor Rohan Hepkins of Yeadon
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