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States Respond to COVID-19: Ventilator Requests, Housing Policies

As the need for ventilators grows, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued new guidance to states and tribes to access ventilators via the Strategic National Stockpile in the case of an immediate crisis. “Immediate” crisis is defined as necessary to sustain life within a 72-hour window.

To access the stockpile supplies, states or tribes must submit to their FEMA/Department of Health and Human Services regional leadership:

  • the number of usable ventilators, intensive care unit (ICU) beds, and convertible ventilators currently available within the state or tribe;
  • the current hospital bed and ICU bed occupancy rate;
  • the state or tribe’s capacity for new ICU beds, ventilators, or Food and Drug Administration (FDA)–approved ventilator alternatives;
  • the decompression ability of the hospitals; and
  • the number of anesthesia machines and whether they have been converted.

Regional leadership will validate this requirement and forward it to FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center for processing.

Additionally, FEMA encourages state and tribal officials to share FDA’s March 24 Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for Ventilators, which allows health care providers to modify anesthesia gas machines and positive pressure breathing devices for use as ventilators. The EUA also provides guidance on the shelf life of existing ventilators and the use of other ventilators, including continuous positive airway pressure devices, for COVID-19 patients in respiratory distress.

States Issue Guidance on Chloroquine, Hydoxychloroquine

In response to unsubstantiated claims that chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine protect against COVID-19, at least 11 states have limited the dispensing of these prescription drugs.

Regulations in Idaho, Kentucky, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas specifically aim to prevent stockpiling of the drugs, which are used to treat malaria, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus.

States Take Measures to Secure Housing During COVID-19

Knowing the close link between housing stability and health, several states have invested in housing during the COVID-19 crisis. California authorized $150 million to protect homeless residents, including $100 million for shelter support and emergency housing and $50 million to purchase trailers and lease rooms in hotels, motels, and other facilities so homeless individuals can isolate. Washington dedicated $30 million to expand shelters, purchase cleaning supplies, and lease hotel rooms, among other strategies.

Some states, including New YorkCaliforniaMaryland, and North Carolina, have implemented eviction moratoriums to protect rent-insecure individuals during the pandemic. California’s order also directs the Public Utilities Commission to manage customer service protections for water, internet, gas, cellular services, and other utilities.

The association is analyzing Medicaid payment options available to states amid the COVID-19 pandemic and will publish a state policy brief in the coming week. Visit the America’s Essential Hospitals coronavirus resource page for more information about the outbreak.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at eomalley@essentialhospitals.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.

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About the Author

Emily Schweich is a senior communications associate for America's Essential Hospitals.

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