Six months after federal disaster declarations for COVID-19, FEMA Region 1 said it continues to support its state and tribal partners in New England by providing financial relief, coordinating federal resources and delivering critical supplies in the fight against the deadly pandemic and the concurrent economic disaster.
In March, the region and nation faced a critical shortage of essential supplies—including personal protective and life-saving equipment necessary to support strained health care systems and slow the spread of the virus.
“In response, our logistics team secured an 86,000 square-foot warehouse, ramped up operations, streamlined procedures and moved mountains of those critical supplies,” said Capt. Russ Webster, the FEMA Regional Administrator who also serves as the Federal Coordinating Officer for the region’s response. “We helped ensure the health, safety and well-being of our fellow New Englanders.”
Examples of supplies include personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline workers and health care professionals, food to help families who faced economic hardships due to COVID-19, and disinfectants to clean surfaces and kill the coronavirus.
To supplement the Strategic National Stockpile, the regional team from FEMA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) set up a supply taskforce to achieve better pricing, quicker delivery, and greater reliability of medical equipment and supplies for the region’s six states and ten tribal partners.
Specifically, the regional taskforce sourced vendors, procured resources based on projected needs and specific requests, allocated supplies based on well-defined algorithms, and arranged for deliveries. That joint effort served as a model for the nation.
FEMA’s Franklin, Massachusetts warehouse deliveries had to be received, tracked, unloaded, sorted and reloaded. To date, FEMA Region 1 warehouse workers have moved more than 22 million pieces of equipment and commodities.
That’s more than 500 truckloads—including semi-trucks, box trucks and panel vans—that rolled in and out of the warehouse.
Examples of outbound loads:
•More than 20 million pieces of personal protective equipment to protect frontline workers and health care professionals—including 1.7 million N95 respirators, 3.1 million KN95 respirators, 275,000 face shields, 400,000 surgical gowns, 1 million Tyvek suits, 1.6 million procedural gowns, and 6 million pairs of clinical gloves. Additional protective gear includes 5 million cloth face coverings given away to infrastructure workers, first responders, schoolchildren, nursing home residents and food producers who did not need medical-grade PPE for their daily use.
•More than 1.7 million boxed meals, low-sodium meals and meals-ready-to-eat to help households and families who faced economic hardships due to COVID-19. Driven by requests from state and tribal partners, those meals went to food pantries, homeless shelters, senior centers and other community-based organizations.
•More than 90,000 units of hand sanitizer (including bottles and 55-gallon drums), 700,000 boxes of disinfectant wipes and 500,000 units of soaps to clean hands and surfaces and kill the coronavirus. State and tribal partners then distributed the items.
While New England states and tribes continue to partner with federal agencies during this global public health crisis, they also work together to identify the entire region’s needs for essential resources, aggregate demand among the states, reap bulk discounts and work towards stabilizing the supply chain.
To eradicate the virus, state and federal agencies in Region 1 established a planning group to prepare for the delivery of millions of doses of safe and effective vaccines throughout New England. The group will support the states in creating plans for widespread distribution and managing any contingencies.
“Logistics—along with a unity of effort—clearly play an integral part in the war against COVID-19,” said Gary Kleinman, ASPR Region 1 Administrator who also serves as the Federal Health Coordinating Officer for the region’s response. “We’re better together.”