A bipartisan group of U.S. senators have called on President Donald Trump to ensure that first responders have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) to do their jobs without being left unprotected when facing the CCP virus.
Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) led a group of his colleagues on the Law Enforcement Caucus and Fire Services Caucus in writing a letter to the president on Monday to address the risks that a shortage of PPE poses for first responders and the community at-large if emergency personnel are not able to do their jobs due to infection.
The letter to Trump is requesting a federally coordinated effort to support first responders.
“A shortage of PPE could lead to first responders unnecessarily being exposed to COVID-19 and could hamper the ability of emergency personnel to serve on the front lines during this public health crisis,” Moran said in a statement.
“[We] urge you to continue exploring every possible avenue to increase the supply of PPE to put more of this critical equipment into the hands of those who need it most, including first responders,” the senators wrote.
The group of senators echoed a call for authorizing the production of key PPE under the defense production act.
“Specifically, this requires utilizing your authorities under the Defense Production Act to strengthen domestic manufacturing capacity by incentivizing private firms to produce PPE, including respirators, gloves, gowns, and eye protection, and to allocate some of these resources to first responders.”
The senators concluded, “Without aggressive federal action, we risk leaving first responders across the country without the tools and equipment they need to keep both themselves and our communities safe during this crisis.”
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the co-chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, was among the signatories of the letter.
The other lawmakers who signed the letter were Chris Coons (D-Del.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that PPE for all CCP virus frontline workers in contact with infected patients include surgical masks (if respirators are not available), eye protection, and gloves.
In addition to the letter, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Ranking Member of the Senate Employment and Workplace Safety Subcommittee, introduced legislation to protect U.S. workers on the frontlines of the unfolding pandemic.
Baldwin’s COVID–19 Workers First Protection Act (S.3584) aims to protect first responders, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians by requiring “certain employers to develop and implement a comprehensive infectious disease exposure control plan to protect health care workers and other employees at elevated risk from exposure to COVID-19.”
“Wisconsin health care workers and first responders are on the frontlines of this pandemic and we need to protect them from exposure to coronavirus,” Baldwin said in a statement.
“While folks are working to support our communities during this public health emergency, we must do everything we can to protect these brave men and women while they’re doing their essential jobs. My legislation will direct the Secretary of Labor to take action and protect our workers now. We’re all in this together, so we need to protect one another as we work to get through this public health crisis and save lives.”