FDA medical supply shortage list includes respirators, gloves, testing swabs

Respirators, testing supplies and other personal protective equipment (PPE), which have been key tools in the ongoing fight against COVID-19, are on a medical supply shortage list released by the FDA.

The list, which was released on Aug. 14, is meant to help keep track of what medical equipment is in short supply in the U.S. and what equipment has been discontinued altogether.

Since the CARES Act was signed into law on March 27, a statute was added that requires manufacturers to notify the FDA “of a permanent discontinuance in the manufacture of the device” or “an interruption in the manufacture of the device that is likely to lead to a meaningful disruption in supply of that device in the United States” during a declared public health emergency, according to an FDA news release.

Provisions of the statute also require the FDA to maintain a publicly available, up-to-date list of the devices the FDA has determined to be in shortage.

The FDA’s new list further highlights the PPE shortage that has plagued the better part of the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the Trump administration touting success in sustaining a steady medical supply chain to hospitals.

“President Trump led the largest mobilization of public and private sector resources since WWII,” according to a White House news release put out on Aug. 10.

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At the onset of the pandemic, the Trump administration advised health care workers to ration and reuse what PPE they had.“Mine broke on day three,” Julie Sullivan, a respiratory therapist told FOX News. “I had to staple the strap; it cut my face where the staple was used.”

Sullivan, 46, left her home state of Texas this spring to help out embattled NYU Langone Hospital in Brooklyn, N.Y., at the height of New York City's coronavirus crisis. She was told to make her N95 mask last for seven days.

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On top of the shortage in personal protective equipment, or PPE, Sullivan also said the Brooklyn hospital didn't have enough circuits for ventilators, the tubing that connects the patient to the ventilator. Sullivan said staff had to use contaminated circuits on new patients.

"They all had COVID-19 anyway. It was either that or they were going to die," she said.

Months into the pandemic, National Nurses United called on the administration to protect nurses by providing desperately needed PPE, gathering over 520,000 signatures for a petition, according to an Aug. 7 news release.

“For more than six months, nurses across this country have been caring for patients in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic without the protections that would prevent exposure to the virus,” said Zenei Cortez, RN and a president of National Nurses United. “Nurses and other frontline workers have been calling out for Congress, the White House, and our employers to get us the personal protective equipment that we need, and those cries have fallen on deaf ears. We demand that Congress ensure that the fourth stimulus package they are currently negotiating includes legislation that will ensure that nurses get the PPE we desperately need.”

FOX News contributed to this report.