The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said on Tuesday that it may not have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical staff if there is a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, which could increase the risk of transmission.
VA Executive in Charge Dr. Richard Stone told the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, “At the peak of the pandemic, the VA’s 170 medical centers were using 250,000 N95 masks a day, which was a ‘daunting amount.’”
Now, the VA has just a 30-day supply of masks, gowns, and other protective gear. However, the agency needs at least a 60-day supply to meet its growing demand as it starts to fully reopen its medical centers.
The VA requires at least a six-month supply to cope with the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Stone said.
He told the committee, “A future pandemic wave may test all of us in our preparation,” according to the Associated Press.
In order to prepare for the possible second wave of coronavirus, Dr. Stone said the agency has added over 18,000 medical staff and is likely to hire more.
The department is preparing four “readiness centers” that will be stocked with PPE.
Dr. Stone also noted that the VA is currently spending $100 million a month on PPE, compared with $10 million a month before the pandemic, according to the AP.
Meanwhile, the United States has reached another dire landmark in its fight against COVID-19, with officials reporting more than 2 million confirmed cases on Wednesday. As restrictions over lockdown measures continue to ease across the nation, the officials have reported a surge in COVID-19 infections in nine states.
Over 115,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States, the most fatalities reported by any country. Worldwide, the virus has sickened more than 7.4 million and killed over 419,000 people so far, according to the worldometer.info.