Talkline with Hoppy Kercheval  Watch |  Listen

West Virginia asked for 160,000 protective medical masks. This week’s shipment had 2,200

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia’s Center for Threat Preparedness has sent a letter to federal officials saying protective equipment for healthcare workers provided so far to prepare for a possible coronavirus outbreak is woefully inadequate.

The letter says West Virginia requested 160,000 N-95 masks, and the state was notified it would receive almost 18,000. When a shipment arrived this week, it included only 2,200.

“This is 88 percent less than what was promised and 98 percent less than what we initially requested,” stated Donnie Haynes, West Virginia’s preparedness director.

Similarly, West Virginia anticipated more than 42,000 face/surgical masks “and received zero.”

“Needless to say, this allotment is wholly insufficient to address the basic and immediate needs of our front line health care and public health workers,” Haynes wrote in a letter with Tuesday’s date.

Bill Crouch

Bill Crouch, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources, said in a telephone interview that he had not been previously aware of the letter.

“I think what it reflects is employees who are really trying to do the best job they can for the public and take care of West Virginians,Crouch said. “We really do have dedicated staff who are doing a great job under the circumstances. He was not aware, is not aware of the conversations I’ve been having with our senators, multiple times a day.”

WV Supplemental SNS Request 031720 (Text)

Sentiments of serious concern aren’t uncommon as states try to prepare for the effects of coronavirus.

The worry with coronavirus is that a surge could overwhelm hospitals and healthcare workers. In some countries, healthcare workers are getting sick when they are exposed.

In Washington, one of the states hardest hit so far, hospital workers have been making protective medical gear out of office supplies.

Mike Pence

On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence asked the nation’s construction companies to donate N-95 industrial masks to hospitals.

“We would make one specific request and that is we would urge construction companies to donate inventory of N95 masks to your local hospital and forgo additional orders,” Pence said from the White House.

“Those industrial masks that they use on construction sites are perfectly acceptable for health care workers to be protected from a respiratory disease,” Pence said.

Shelley Moore Capito

Senator Shelley Moore Capito, during a call with reporters today, described hope that more supplies will soon be available.

“I think what we need to do is look at the vulnerabilities of our constituents,” said Capito, R-W.Va. “I think now is the time to highlight why West Virginia needs additional help.”

Crouch said he’s been in touch with Capito and Senator Joe Manchin, D-W..Va., multiple times a day. He expressed confidence that they would make sure West Virginia has necessary resources.

“So we’re getting a lot of cooperation, a lot of efforts,” Crouch said. “We’re gonna get what we need.”

The letter from West Virginia’s Center for Threat Preparedness was sent Tuesday to the U.S. Public Health Service.

It expresses concern that response efforts, supply chains and support are rolling out “in ways that will result in unnecessary disease and deaths.” The letter takes issue with allocation based on size and case numbers.

Haynes requests a heavy focus on population risk, noting that West Virginia is a high-risk state.

West Virginia has the oldest population in the country, with about 20 percent age 65 and older. The poverty rate in West Virginia is 20 percent, the letter states.

The letter notes that West Virginia is first in the nation for obesity, heart attacks and respiratory illnesses and second in the nation for diabetes.

“The high prevalence of these underlying health conditions will likely lead to a higher percentage of our population requiring hospitalization should they become infected,” Haynes wrote.

Dr. Cathy Slemp

State Health Officer Cathy Slemp has made a similar point.

During a news conference this week, Slemp said, “You need to be prioritizing states not just based on cases, but based on risk.”

West Virginia sent a new request this week for personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, saying the first shipment “was woefully under the allotment that was promised.”

The new request suggests, “Failure to meet this request could pose severe negative consequences to our healthcare system and have a drastic impact on the public.”

It concludes, “We are in desperate need of at least 300,000 N-95 masks, 300,000 surgical masks, 50,000 goggles/face shields, 200,000 gowns, 2,000 boxes medium gloves, 2,000 boxes large gloves and 2,000 boxes xlarge gloves.

“By having this request filled, it will ensure community testing strategies can be initiated in all 55 counties. Failure to grant this request will likely have grave impacts on the healthcare system, and citizens of this state.”

Supplemental Request for PPE RRF 031720 (Text)

More News

Governor announces resignation of State Police Superintendent Cahill
Cahill's resignation follows a broader investigation of the State Police, although the results have not yet been publicly revealed. 
March 20, 2023 - 11:08 am
North Carolina murder suspect arrested in Charleston
Man wanted for deadly shooting in Statesville, North Carolina.
March 20, 2023 - 10:45 am
Kanawha County murder case now has summer trial date
Prosecutors say medical examiner who did autopsy not available this week.
March 20, 2023 - 10:27 am
MetroNews This Morning 3-20-23
Summary of West Virginia news/sports/weather for Monday, March 20, 2023
March 20, 2023 - 6:32 am