Lawmakers to FEMA: DC area needs medical supplies now to fight coronavirus

FILE – In this March 24, 2020, file photo stacks of medical supplies are housed at the Jacob Javits Center, which became a temporary hospital in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

A dozen members of Congress from D.C., Virginia and Maryland on Wednesday called on FEMA to immediately increase the amount of emergency medical supplies allotted to the region to deal with the spread of coronavirus.

The lawmakers, in a letter to FEMA administrator Peter Gaynor, pointed out that the region could soon face a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases.

The letter cites comments made by Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, who said April 4 that D.C. is on track to become one of the next hot spots.

The letter points out that D.C., Maryland and Virginia recently received only a small percentage of the equipment they asked for from FEMA. The findings were outlined in a recently released report by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

The lawmakers said that “deeply under-resourcing D.C. inherently means spillover to either Virginia or Maryland and vice versa.”

“Our jurisdictions cannot wait until the surge is here if we need supplies now,” the letter stated. “We expect to become a new epicenter of infection in coming weeks despite the recently implemented ‘stay-at-home’ orders.”

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The letter concludes by asking that FEMA “place a higher attention and consideration for supplies to the National Capital Region.”

The letter is signed by Reps. Don Beyer, D-Va.; Rob Wittman, R-Va.; Gerry Connolly, D-Va.;  Jennifer Wexton, D-Va.; Anthony Brown, D-Md.; David Trone, D-Md.; House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.; and Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va.; Mark Warner, D-Va.; Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.; Ben Cardin, D-Md.; and D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton.

Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan told reporters he had convinced the Trump administration to designate the “Baltimore-Washington corridor” as an “emerging hot spot” of coronavirus cases that should be a priority for “urgent federal attention.”

Mitchell Miller

Mitchell Miller has worked at WTOP since 1996, as a producer, editor, reporter and Senior News Director. After working "behind the scenes," coordinating coverage and reporter coverage for years, Mitchell moved back to his first love -- reporting. He is now WTOP's Capitol Hill reporter.

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