The nation's medical stockpile was reportedly so shockingly depleted at the start of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States it had just one to three weeks of supplies on hand.
A senior administration official, in a conference call to reporters Thursday, characterized the alarming shortcoming as a consequence of not replenishing it after earlier public health threats, The Washington Post reported.
The official — speaking ahead of President Donald Trump's expected announcement to change the configuration of the stockpile — said the net effect was the stockpile held just one to three weeks' supplies of essential protective equipment, including much-needed N95 masks and gowns.
Another administration official told the Post, calculations have been made of how much of each type of equipment is needed to maintain a supply of one, two, or three months.
"We will be working to put that on the shelves in a manner so the stockpile is not a singular purchase," the official told reporters, according to the Post.
Another official told the news outlet, when the pandemic arrived in the United States, the stockpile carried only 28% of the emergency supplies that fighting it requires. It did not carry medicine or testing supplies, the official said, adding the goal now is to stock "a much broader and deeper set of supplies."
In recent years, the emphasis of officials who oversaw the stockpile was on preparations for a terrorist threat. When the coronavirus arrived, the stockpile contained 13 million N95 masks, and the goal now it to have 300 million by the fall, the Post reported.
The Trump administration also will seek to increase the supply of gowns from 2 million to 6 million or 7 million, and to store "millions of milliliters of crucial drugs," an official told the Post.
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