Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan To Biden: Fix Mask Shortage Problem

Feb 17, 2021
Press Release
Feds Need to Step in and Help American Companies

WASHINGTON – In a letter sent today to President Joe Biden, Congressman Vern Buchanan urged immediate federal action to help American companies distribute millions of protective face masks. Buchanan noted one company in Miami Lakes has 30 million N95 face masks sitting in a warehouse waiting to be sold.

"I write to urge you to do everything in your power to support American manufacturers and their continued efforts to produce and distribute critical N95 masks amid the ongoing health crisis," the congressman said in his letter, noting that demand for the highly protective N95 masks has soared 12-fold during the pandemic. 

Buchanan said the federal government needs to step in and help American companies in the face of stiff competition from China and other counties. According to the Associated Press a lack of clarity from the federal government on how hospitals should manage their supplies and lack of logistical assistance have contributed to the shortage of masks.  

At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, many American companies upended their regular business operations to produce desperately needed N95 masks to help protect our country from this deadly virus.

Luis Arguello Jr., vice president of DemeTECH of Miami Lakes, said his company retooled and geared up production of N95s last March when the nation had a critical shortage. He told the New York Times, "The biggest issue we have is reaching consumers. We’re blocked on Google, We’re blocked on social media. You can advertise Chinese masks, but you can’t advertise Made in the USA N95 masks." 

Buchanan said, "These companies need federal help to get their products into the hands of front-line health care workers and the public as soon as possible."

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed how dangerously reliant our medical supply chain is on China and other countries. Last May, Buchanan introduced the Securing America’s Medicine Cabinet Act to strengthen the American medical supply chain by creating a new federal office responsible for stockpiling adequate supplies of critical medicines and encourage companies to ramp up the manufacturing of drugs and supplies.

Read the full letter below:

I write to urge you to do everything in your power to support American manufacturers and their continued efforts to produce and distribute critical N95 masks amid the ongoing health crisis.

At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, many American companies upended their regular business operations to produce desperately needed N95 masks to help protect our country from this deadly virus. Now, even after getting their masks officially approved for use by the federal government, these companies are struggling to get their masks out to the public despite the continuing demand due to bureaucratic red tape. And some of those companies are even in danger failing as a result of this.

A recent report found that usage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in hospitals has hit record highs while hospital stockpiles of PPE have continued to winnow, needlessly endangering both patients and workers. Despite the increased demand, American companies who are making this critical equipment are still unable to get their products into the hands of those who need it most. In fact, according to a recent New York Times article, one company has 30 million masks on hand and ready to be purchased. As a result, some companies have even taken to exporting their products overseas. It is clear that these companies need federal support to get their products into the hands of the American public and our front-line health care workers as soon as possible.

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed how dangerously reliant our medical supply chain is on China and other countries. We must take immediate take steps to become less dependent on foreign countries for our medical supplies and support American manufacturers. U.S. companies should not be forced to send these desperately needed supplies out of the country due to bureaucratic red tape. Last May, I introduced legislation to strengthen the American medical supply chain by creating a new federal office responsible for stockpiling adequate supplies of critical medicines and encourage companies to ramp up the manufacturing of drugs and supplies.

I appreciate that your administration has made buying American a top priority and support those efforts. Working to ensure these companies can quickly and easily get these masks to those in need, especially our first responders, is a critically important issue everyone can agree on.

Again, I urge you to work expeditiously to support these American manufacturers and help protect the American people. 

Sincerely,