DoD poised to provide supplies to combat virus
Fort Hood Sentinel
By C. Todd Lopez, DoD News
Mar 19, 2020
WASHINGTON — As part of the president’s whole-of-government approach to fighting the coronavirus pandemic, the Defense Department has agreed to provide medical supplies and capabilities to the Department of Health and Human Services to help combat further infections, Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper said.
The Defense Department will make available up to 5 million respirator masks and other personal protective equipment from its strategic reserves to the Department of Health and Human Services for distribution, Esper said during a news conference at the Pentagon today, adding that the first million masks would be made available immediately.
Esper said some 2,000 deployable ventilators would also be made available to HHS. Those devices, he said, are different from civilian equivalents and will require special training for civilian users, so DoD personnel likely will provide that training.
To help measure the spread of the coronavirus, the Defense Department has also made 14 certified testing labs available to test non-DoD personnel, and two labs would be added to that total, the secretary said.
Additionally, Esper said, DoD officials are considering use of the National Guard, the Reserve components, and capabilities such as the Navy’s hospital ships USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy. He said the Comfort is undergoing maintenance now and the Mercy is in port.
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