Oregon, Washington Return Ventilators to National Stockpile for Use in Harder Hit States

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
April 5, 2020Updated: April 6, 2020

The states of Oregon and Washington have returned hundreds of ventilators to the Strategic National Stockpile for distribution to other states that have been harder hit by the CCP virus, Vice President Mike Pence said April 5.

Speaking at a White House briefing on the CCP virus pandemic, Pence expressed his “profound appreciation” to both Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee for returning the ventilators after examining their states’ individual circumstances.

“The state of Oregon and the state of Washington are leading by example,” Pence said. “Oregon sent 140 ventilators to New York City—they looked at their circumstances and concluded that they could spare those at the point of the need.”

Pence said Inslee decided to return 400 ventilators to the Strategic National Stockpile “because of the low and steady numbers in Washington state, and in California.”

“Those will be deployed at the point of the need,” he added.

The role of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Strategic National Stockpile is to supplement state and local supplies during public health emergencies.

The measures from both governors came after President Donald Trump on April 4 stated that several states had made “inflated requests,” fearing shortages amid the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.

“It’s very understandable that officials would seek to get the most they can get for their communities,” Trump said of submissions his administration has received to dole out equipment from the Strategic National Stockpile.

But he pushed back against criticism that the federal government hadn’t done enough to get ventilators to the states, saying some governors were asking for more machines than is possible.

“We had one state asking for 40,000 ventilators,” Trump continued. “Forty thousand. Think of it: 40,000. It’s not possible.

“They won’t need that many, and now they’re admitting they don’t need that many. But we’re getting as many as we can to them.”

Inslee said the state of Washington determined the 400 ventilators could be better used in states more affected by the CCP virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.

As of April 5, Washington had 7,498 reported cases of COVID-19—the disease caused by the CCP virus—with 319 deaths.

“I’ve said many times over the last few weeks: We are in this together,” Inslee said.

The ventilators from the Strategic National Stockpile may not be able to directly treat COVID-19 patients as the individuals’ lungs could require a higher amount of pressure support than the machines provide, the Seattle Times reported, citing Jessica Baggett, a spokeswoman for Washington’s Joint Information Center.

But the ventilators will be able to help free up suitable ventilators, state officials said.

Brown said that her state would also send ventilators to New York to help front-line medical response efforts to the pandemic.

“New York needs more ventilators, and we are answering their call for help,” Brown said in a statement. “We’ll be sending 140 ventilators to help NY because Oregon is in a better position right now.”

“We must do all that we can to help those on the front lines of this response.”

Oregon had 1,068 reported cases of the CCP virus and 27 deaths of April 5.

The state of New York—the hardest-hit state—on April 5 reported for the first time in a week that CCP virus deaths had fallen slightly from the day before. However there were still nearly 600 new fatalities and more than 7,300 new cases.

White House medical experts have forecast that between 100,000 to 240,000 Americans could die in the pandemic, even if sweeping orders to stay home are followed.

Reuters contributed to this report.