Governors, Trump Join To Ramp Up Emergency Logistics; ‘Project Airbridge’ Brings in Supplies from China
March 29 (EIRNS)—White House Task Force members today indicated that the 15-day Federal Guidelines on COVID-19 for social distancing, ending March 30, will be extended a month. Details will be made available March 30 or 31.
Many governors and President Donald Trump were outspoken over this weekend, on aspects of the collaboration to ramp up logistics for emergency diagnostics and care for COVID-19 patients and surge requirements. National Governors Association Chairman Larry Hogan, of Maryland, told Fox News that there are “big pinch points” everywhere on supplies: “There is frustration,” but “we are all in it together.” Governors gave specifics on this all weekend, especially from the hotspot states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Louisiana, California, Washington, Florida and Michigan.
Both New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said today that respiratory ventilators are their number-one issue. Murphy further said of the White House Task Force, “They’re trying to work with us. We’re trying to find common ground.”
This afternoon, Trump attended a meeting of business executives on supply lines for medical materials. He then had several speak, including UPS, at the daily White House Task Force briefing.
Trump himself announced the “Project Airbridge,” a public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement to rapidly distribute supplies, including coming in from China. A planeload of medical supplies arrived in New York today from Shanghai. The plane carried 130,000 N95 respirator masks, nearly 1.8 million other face masks and gowns, more than 10.3 million gloves, and some 70,000 thermometers. A handful of American healthcare distributors purchased the supplies, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency brought them in on a Shanghai-to-New York flight. A White House statement said, the “majority of these supplies will be provided by FEMA to the states of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut with the rest going to nursing homes in the area and to other high-risk areas across the country.”
FEMA is covering the shipping of this part of Project Airbridge. The equipment was all produced in China, and was available for the U.S. New York had requested more equipment from China, but a question arose how to get it to the U.S. with the current restrictions on air travel. FEMA stepped in to take the load, which was no doubt a result of the March 26 phone discussion between President Trump and President Xi Jinping on the matter.
Another outstanding feature of the logistics mobilization is the rapid Army Corps of Engineers response in many parts of the country for helping on contingency hospital beds and domiciling medical staff, in “alternative” structures of all kinds. Corps commander Army Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite gave an overview on March 28, saying, they are looking at 114 structures in 50 states, for various kinds of adaptation. New York’s Javits Center, a convention venue, was one such facility-turned-hospital in four days. The Corps of Engineers is working side by side with FEMA, the Department of Health and Human Services and local governments, the general said, stressing that the team effort that involves talking with mayors and state officials to determine what works best.
Stadium conversion projects are now underway in many cities. There is even a pop-up hospital underway in Central Park, Manhattan. Samaritan’s Purse, the charity associated with Franklin Graham, Billy Graham’s son, is building a 14-tent complex on 50,000 sq. ft. in Central Park’s East Meadow.