The federal government has a total of 10,469 ventilators stockpiled and able to be made available to states and tribal governments, FEMA announced Wednesday as it laid out the rules for how to go about requesting them.
The Strategic National Stockpile, a cache maintained by the Health Department, has 9,404 ventilators, and the Defense Department has 1,065 available.
FEMA acknowledged a “scarcity” in both that stockpile and in the private sector’s ability to meet the coronavirus crisis needs, and it said it will speed them “to the states in the amount needed to manage the immediate crisis.”
“In the case of ventilators, immediate is defined as requirements necessary to sustain life within a 72-hour window,” FEMA said.
To apply, states or tribes must detail how many usable ventilators they already have, and how many convertible ventilators they could access; what their hospital bed situation is; and how many anesthesia machines are available to be converted into usable ventilators.
COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, strikes some victims as a severe respiratory illness, with ventilators needed to breath for them, keeping them alive while they fight the infection.
Governors have been begging the federal government to find and send them ventilators, and lawmakers are sniping at the federal government over what they see as their needs, versus what’s available nationally.