OLYMPIA — Washington may not get all of the ventilators it requested from the federal government’s national stockpile of medical supplies, Gov. Jay Inslee’s chief of staff said Tuesday.
As the state prepares for hospitalizations of people with the new coronavirus, Washington, so far, has received 500 ventilators that it requested from Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), according to a spokeswoman for the state’s emergency-response team.
Of those, “176 went out today, and 324 are scheduled to be distributed tomorrow,” Jessica Baggett, spokeswoman for the Joint Incident Command, wrote in an email.
But a request for an additional 500 ventilators made by the state remains in question, state officials said Tuesday.
The state was told Monday night it would get 100 of that second batch, according to Inslee Chief of Staff David Postman, “And now there’s some question of whether that’s going to happen right now.”
“It’s unclear at this point how many we will get, so we’re trying to clarify that,” he added later.
Postman said that, “One of the things that we’ve heard because there are some ways where we’ve been able to flatten the curve,” potentially slowing the spread of the coronavirus, “the federal government looks at that and says we have more pressing needs elsewhere.”
While Postman said he understands the demand in other states for such gear, “we need to make sure that doesn’t stop us from getting what we think we need.”
As the pandemic spreads across the country, with more than 183,000 cases and 3,780 deaths, there’s now a national shortage of ventilators — which can deliver oxygen to COVID-19 patients who are having trouble breathing.
But Postman said he doesn’t think Washington has a shortage right now.
The state has a stockpile of ventilators, in addition to those now in hospitals. Medical facilities that postponed elective surgeries amid the pandemic also have some devices available, he said.
Meanwhile, the state has ordered ventilators from several different private companies, he added.
State officials in recent days have declined to say how much equipment they’re receiving from the SNS. Postman said Tuesday that officials likely wouldn’t be providing detailed information anytime soon.
“We’re working very hard to continue to build our supplies across the board, from ventilators to rubber gloves,” he said.
Postman also said Inslee’s stay-at-home order will likely be officially extended in the next day or so, and the National Guard could begin deployments to help in the coming days.
The Washington Military Department has previously said the National Guard could be sent out to assist with logistics for the state’s coronavirus response.
In those instances, Guard members could be deployed to unload and assemble field hospitals, or transport people or medical supplies, or assist with traffic control points or mobile testing sites.
Washington Military Department spokeswoman Karina Shagren said as many as 140 National Guard members could be deployed soon to help area food banks pack and distribute food.
That will help make sure food banks that depend on volunteers can remain in operation, she said.