DENVER — In a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis is requesting thousands of ventilators and other supplies from the federal government to help combat coronavirus in Colorado.
Polis is requesting 10,000 ventilators (along with associated equipment and pharmaceuticals), 2 million N95 masks, 4.46 million surgical masks, 720,000 gowns, 880,000 face shields, and 4.3 million pairs of gloves.
“We are facing a crisis-level shortage of these essential supplies to protect our health care workers and first responders,” Polis wrote in the letter. “Colorado’s COVID-19 death rate is rising faster than any other state right now; the pandemic is spreading so fast that lags in testing are masking the true conditions experienced by Coloradans across the state. I fear that because of our comparably smaller population, the staggering increases in cases and deaths are not fully registering in national models. What we are experiencing in Colorado is far worse than we imagined.”
The governor said Wednesday that the state has ordered millions of gloves, masks, and ventilators from suppliers in China, but a global supply chain crisis is affecting the state’s ability to obtain supplies.
“The PPE shortage is at an emergency level in our rural communities like Breckenridge, Aspen, and Vail,” Polis’ letter continued. “Hospital staff in Western Slope facilities have been pulled off the floor to start sewing flimsy cloth surgical masks. A hospital on the Eastern Plains can’t meet minimum staffing needs because workers have stopped showing up to work in fear of contracting COVID-19 without adequate protection. Their fear is warranted — more and more health care workers are testing positive every day.”
Polis said the state received another shipment from the Strategic National Stockpile on Friday.
“These make a difference and buy us some time,” Polis said in the letter. “But, as we prepare for the next few weeks, we know we will need more to keep our health care workers safe in order to save as many patient lives as possible.”