Oregon Gov. Kate Brown told reporters Wednesday, March 25, that the federal government was not doing enough to help Oregon in its fight against the spread of the coronavirus.
"It is absolutely unacceptable that health care workers currently lack the necessary resources to protect themselves and their patients," Brown said during a phone call with Oregon media. "As you all know, we've been working to tap federal supplies. We've received about 25% of our request."
"This outrageous lack of action will result in lost lives."
Brown said she and several other governors across the country were asked by the federal government to acquire supplies through the open market. By doing so, every state was essentially competing to secure scarce products.
The governor said the demand for personal protective equipment is being ignored. "Right now, what is available is being prioritized for hot spots like New York, California and Washington, leaving states like Oregon with no options," she said.
Brown further argued that Oregon has the ability to manufacture more PPE items locally, but the federal government has positioned itself as a barrier.
"(The feds) could easily provide guidance from the FDA, the CDC and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to fast-track the approval process we seek for the manufacturing of respiratory masks and surgical gowns," she said. "It's also extremely alarming to hear that doctors and nurses feel like they need to reuse their PPE and risk their own health and safety."
Brown said that if resources were available on the commercial market, she would have purchased them. She added that because the federal government was not providing correct specs for companies, they do not have any liability for what they are making. "This outrageous lack of action will result in lost lives."
The governor also reported that Oregon has received 4,000 swabs from the Department of Health and Human Services. As a result, Kaiser and Legacy hospitals have begun conducting in-house tests as of March 25.
Addressing the need to improve the reports issued by the Oregon Health Authority, Brown said she had directed OHA to look closely at the requests made by local media and to share all COVID-19 information with the public that did not compromise patient privacy. Beginning Wednesday, OHA will include the following details in its reporting: age ranges by decade for all positive cases; hospitalization statuses of all positive cases; and available hospital beds, ICU beds, and ventilators.
KOIN 6 News is a Portland Tribune media partner.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.