Where medical supplies stand in the US right now

Published: Mar. 26, 2020 at 6:15 PM EDT
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A major problem the nation is dealing with as the coronavirus spreads is a lack of medical supplies. Here's a look at where the U.S. stands right now.

At hospitals around the country, there's no greater need than protective equipment for health care workers and ventilators.

On Wednesday, President Trump saluted the companies helping to produce the needed items.

"General Motor’s involved, Ford is involved, 3M is involved, others are involved and they’re all working hard to produce product, all different product," Trump said.

FEMA is shipping 20 million surgical masks, almost 9.5 million N95 respirators, 6,000 ventilators and millions of gowns, face shields and gloves to states.

"We are focusing those resources in the areas where health care workers are most exposed to the prospect of contracting the coronavirus," Vice President Mike Pence said.

FEMA's director tweeted pictures of 2,000 ventilators arriving in New York, half of what's on the way. But that’s only a drop in the bucket in the epicenter of the outbreak. Gov. Andrew Cuomo says cases in New York are projected to peak in two to three weeks.

"Ventilators, ventilators, ventilators. We need 30,000," said Cuomo, D-New York.

Health officials say there are fewer than 20,000 ventilators in a national stockpile and 150,000 currently in the health care system. As more are needed, they're exploring converting devices used by anesthesiologists into ventilators.

"It’s not only the ventilators they’ll be supplying. They have the people that run those ventilators that are not any longer doing elective surgery," said Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator.

Hospital beds could also soon be in short supply. Cuomo says as many as 140,000 may be needed and there are only 53,000 in the state. He's asking hospitals to increase their bed counts by at least 50% as temporary sites are readied, including the Javits Convention Center.

New York City is building a temporary morgue in preparation for an expected rise in deaths from the virus.