The first planeload of crucial medical supplies arrived on Sunday at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport as part of “Project Airbridge.” The bulk of the personal protective gear will be distributed in the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, three of the nation’s areas highest hit by the Covid-19 outbreak. More planes with more gear will follow.
First load of crucial supplies arrives at JFK
The White House announced on Sunday that the first planeload of medical supplies crucial to hospital staff touched down at John F. Kennedy airport in New York City. It carried a full load of gloves, gowns, masks and thermometers. More supplies will come in regularly over the next 30 days.
According to a statement released by Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, who heads up the Project Airbridge team, “130,000 N-95 masks; nearly 1.8 million surgical masks and gowns, more than 10.3 million gloves; and more than 70,000 thermometers” are being passed out as soon as they’re unloaded.
Under Kushner’s direction, the Federal Emergency Management Agency got together with large healthcare supply distributors including McKesson, Cardinal, Owens & Minor, Medline and Henry Schein, to locate existing stockpiles of desperately needed equipment and supplies. They found some.
An emergency overnight shipping company
China, Malaysia and Vietnam have what we need, but there’s no crucial time to waste on sea transportation. The first thing the working group decided was that they must use “planes instead of ships to reduce the shipping time.”
Working closely with “officials at both the U.S. embassy in China as well as the State Department’s East-Asia Pacific team,” they created an “unprecedented public-private partnership.” The FEMA transportation task force is paying the bill. Twenty flights are currently scheduled between now and early April.
Project Airbridge is designed to “ensure that massive amounts of masks, gear and other PPE will be brought to the United States immediately to better equip our health care workers on the front lines and to better serve the American people.” After the New York metro area nursing homes are also taken care of, supplies will be directed to “other high-risk areas across the country.”
White House slashing red tape
President Donald Trump has been using his executive orders to slash though miles of burdensome red tape for the duration of the emergency. Not only did he get the crucial medical supplies cleared from source to destination for immediate use, he made it possible for patients to access medical care remotely. That avoids both risk of infection and unnecessary burden to the system.
Suspending enforcement of HIPPAA regulations related to the “good faith” use of technology allows existing equipment and applications to be used for telemedicine. Under the emergency guidelines, patients and doctors are allowed to “utilize telehealth across state lines.” They can “provide services, even though they are not licensed to practice in those states.”
That is a huge relief to millions of vulnerable Americans. “We are empowering medical providers to serve patients wherever they are during this national public health emergency. We are especially concerned about reaching those most at risk, including older persons and persons with disabilities,” Health and Human Services Civil Rights director Roger Severino explained.