Houston, TX — Congressman Pete Olson (TX-22) today joined a bipartisan group of members of the Houston Congressional Delegation led by Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX) to ensure health care workers and first responders on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic can obtain the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need. In a letter to Congressional leadership, the members called for the next coronavirus legislation to include any mechanism necessary to facilitate the production and distribution of PPE and urged leadership to force the use of the Defense Production Act to increase the supplies of life-saving PPE.
“Doctors, nurses, EMTs, police officers, firefighters, and a variety of others responding to this crisis are imploring the government to provide the equipment they need to do their jobs — to save our lives,” the letter states. “It is disgraceful that our frontline workers are being put at risk because the federal and state government are unable to respond quickly and effectively.”
The letter continues: “As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase, we need to find new ways to incentivize the manufacturing of necessary equipment. Failure to do so will magnify the scope and complexity of this crisis. If we don’t act now with urgency, we risk the safety of our medical and emergency personnel, and of all Americans if they become infected and are no longer able to provide medical care for others.”
Houston is home to the largest medical complex in the world with more than 366,000 health care workers. In their letter, the members noted that Texas requires more PPE from the Strategic National Stockpile, and that Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Peter Gaynor has not yet specified how much additional equipment will be shipped in the coming days. They call on leadership to work with relevant committees to pursue all possible avenues to spur the development and deployment of PPE for the safety and protection of health care workers and first responders.
Olson and Fletcher were joined on the letter by Reps. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX) and Al Green (D-TX). The full text of the letter is available here.