(Londonderry, NH) – Today at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) Robert Wilkie, DEKA Founder Dean Kamen and New Hampshire officials in welcoming a plane carrying a large emergency shipment of personal protective equipment that will be distributed to VA health care facilities. The shipment included 11 million pairs of gloves and will help protect veterans and health care providers from the spread of COVID-19. This delivery is part of a larger order of PPE that was spearheaded by Dean Kamen. At the event, the VA also announced a new VA New England Center for Innovation Excellence (VA NECIE), which will unite industry partners and the VA to develop innovative medical treatments and devices to assist veterans. Shaheen has welcomed previous deliveries of PPE to New Hampshire, and Shaheen and Hassan continue to call for federal relief to support New Hampshire communities on the frontlines of the pandemic.
“As cases of COVID-19 continue to surge here in New Hampshire and across the country, ensuring health care providers have the personal protective equipment they need to safely care for our veterans has never been more important,” said Senator Shaheen. “I was glad to join Secretary Wilkie, Senator Hassan and Dean Kamen this morning in welcoming this latest delivery of urgently-needed PPE, which will help protect the health and well-being of VA health care workers and our veterans. I’m especially thankful for Dean’s outstanding work in procuring these supplies from around the world. Our work to respond to this crisis is far from over – we must continue to use every tool at our disposal to give our essential workers on the frontlines of this crisis the equipment they need to stay safe on the job.”
“I was pleased to join in welcoming this critical shipment of personal protective equipment to help protect veterans and their health care providers from COVID-19,” Senator Hassan said. “As this deadly virus continues to spread in New Hampshire and across the country, I know that many veterans -- especially those at long-term care facilities -- have been hit particularly hard. I want to thank Dean Kamen for his efforts to secure these crucial supplies for Granite Staters over the last few months, and I will continue pushing for an additional, bipartisan package that provides necessary public health resources and additional relief for the challenges that we continue to face amid this pandemic."
Shaheen and Hassan have fought to secure urgently needed personal protective equipment for New Hampshire. Senator Shaheen previously introduced the Homeland Procurement Reform Act, which would require the Department of Homeland Security to increase the amount of PPE it procures from American companies. This bill has bipartisan support and would ensure that the domestic supply chain for PPE is capable of supplying the critical items that FEMA and other federal agencies need during a national emergency.
In April, Shaheen and Hassan introduced legislation that lays out a framework for an effective COVID-19 response by federalizing and adding oversight and transparency to the supply chain for critical medical supplies and equipment. With the state’s congressional delegation, they have sent multiple letters to the Trump administration requesting rapid assistance to ensure New Hampshire health care providers have the supplies needed to address coronavirus cases the state is experiencing. In addition, Shaheen sent a letter pressing the administration for information on the distribution of critical medical supplies, including personal protective equipment. Shaheen and Hassan repeatedly called for the President to invoke the Defense Production Act and introduced legislation to expedite the procurement of medical equipment, under the DPA. Specifically, Shaheen and Hassan have pushed the administration to fully utilize the DPA to ensure the VA has the supplies and equipment needed to protect veterans from COVID-19.