HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Wolf announced Thursday that he will spend up to $50 million in transferred state funding to purchase medical equipment and supplies for hospitals, nursing homes and emergency workers.
“We need more beds, more ventilators, more personal protective equipment and so much more, and we need it as soon as possible because the virus is here,” Wolf was quoted in a press release. “I am working to get this funding moving as quickly as I can. We need to do everything we can to support our front-line medical workers to protect them and ensure they have the equipment to care for patients. This funding is a step in the right direction.”
The Department of Health on Thursday announced 560 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,687. There are 16 deaths, and 16,441 negative test results in the state. No cases were reported in Northumberland County.
Wolf said $50 million in funding will be deposited into a restricted account under his jurisdiction and the funds will be used, if there are insufficient funds available from the disaster proclamation “to buy medical equipment and supplies for health care entities to meet urgent patient and staff needs to address surge demand.”
Health care entities, Wolf explained, include hospitals, nursing facilities and emergency medical services.
“As we continue to navigate uncharted waters with COVID-19, it is vital that we provide assistance to the healthcare professionals leading the fight during this public health epidemic,” Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman commented. “In Pennsylvania, we worked together to dedicate this money to help those who are waging this extraordinary battle.”
House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler added, “As this crisis has evolved, our members have heard consistently from workers in need, parents and students with a lack of direction and the healthcare community concerned about a surge in patients. I hope every resident of our state sees the actions we took to help all of those groups this week and knows their government is working to make sure we will get through this crisis together.”
Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa called getting resources to medical professionals a “top priority” and remarked that legislators worked quickly in a bipartisan and bicameral way to allocate $50 million toward procuring supplies.
“The Pennsylvania Senate convened remotely for the first time ever to address our constituents’ needs through this crisis,” Costa said.
House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody stated that medical workers are in the thick of a life-and-death battle and the commonwealth has to make sure they have the tools to carry on the fight for everyone’s good.
“The legislation allowing this use of funding was one of our top priorities this week. Legislators in both parties pulled together to pass it,” Dermody added.
Wolf on Wednesday announced the COVID-19 Capital Working Access Program (CWCA) to provide $60 million in loans to small businesses. The program, he said, is intended to get funding where it is needed most “to save lives and livelihoods.”
“Pennsylvania is seeing cases of COVID-19 increase exponentially every day and until the curve of cases is flattened, everyone needs to do their part to help,” Wolf said. “We must do everything we can to prevent an enormous number of Pennsylvanians from becoming ill at the same time. And that means we must continue to distance ourselves socially. Just as doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers have their part to play in this battle, so do each of us. When we choose to stay home, we are thanking a medical professional.”
Critical Medical Supplies Procurement Portal
Wolf also announced the creation of a new web portal that will expedite the procurement of critical medical supplies for the state’s health care system.
The Critical Medical Supplies Procurement Portal was developed through a joint effort between the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Health, the Department of General Services, and the Department of Community and Economic Development to source the most needed supplies for medical providers, emergency responders and health care professionals.
The portal is for manufacturers, distributors and other suppliers to inform the commonwealth of supplies available for purchase and will allow the commonwealth to more quickly and efficiently procure supplies for hospitals and medical facilities, Wolf said.
“The commonwealth, and the nation, is facing an unprecedented and uncertain time, and as we work to flatten the curve we must also ramp up efforts to provide Pennsylvania’s health care system with the critical supplies it needs to treat individuals with COVID-19,” Wolf said. “By consolidating the efforts of various state agencies, we will streamline the procurement process and allow these supplies to get to our health care providers and medical professionals as quickly as possible.”
Questions on the portal can be directed to the Department of General Services at RAfirstname.lastname@example.org.