On Wednesday, Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey called in to Boston Public Radio to explain the severity of the coronavirus crisis and offer his views on what Congress and the President need to do to quell the impact of the pandemic.
Yesterday, "The Boston Globe" published a piecewritten by Markey and Mass General Hospital President Peter Slavin, which called for a “Manhattan Project-type approach” to combatting COVID-19. At Mass General, cases of the novel virus quadrupled to 53 between Monday and Tuesday.
"The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that our health care system could need as many as 3.5 billion respirator-type masks … and the nation’s stock pile contains only 12 million.” Markey explained. “Even with the military sending over their capacity, it’s still far short of what we’re going to need."
In a press conference Wednesday, President Trump announced plans to invoke the Defense Production Act, which would greatly expand funding to produce the much-needed masks and respirators.
"They use 3,500 masks a day just in [Berkshire Medical Center],” Markey said, speaking about an hour before the president’s address. "Imagine if the Berkshire hospital uses 3,500 a day– what does Mass General, the Brigham, Lahey, all the way down the line use in a day? So you multiply that by the whole country and you can see by the scale of production that we’re engaging in right now is completely inadequate to the magnitude of this problem."
Meanwhile, in the Senate, the Republican majority is crafting an emergency bill without input from Democrats. As to what will be in included in the Senate’s relief package, Markey said he didn’t yet know. He called for legislators to work together, as they have during past crises in American history.
"The fact that they’re first trying to negotiate amongst Republicans without coming to the Democrats is just a sign that they’re still treating this as business as usual, which is not the way we should be responding to this crisis,” he said. “This is the World War II, the Great Depression of our time and if we don’t come together as a people, we’re not going to be able to weather this storm.”