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Gov. Evers moves ahead with plans to buy 10K ventilators, 1M protective masks to fight COVID-19

Governor Tony Evers

Gov. Tony Evers

MADISON — Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ administration is moving ahead with plans to buy 10,000 ventilators and one million protective masks in the fight against the coronavirus.

The effort comes after Evers’ administration had clashed with Republican lawmakers over whether he needed their permission to make such purchases.

GOP leaders contended he already had that power after Evers gave them a bill calling for spending more than $700 million to help care for thousands of sick and jobless people in Wisconsin.

Evers’ chief of staff said Saturday night, March 28 that the administration has been making smaller purchases and will now move forward with the large purchase of ventilators and masks.

Evers shared the following message on Twitter Sunday:

“I wanted to provide some updates on Wisconsin’s 24/7 whole-of-government response to the #COVID19 crisis. I am incredibly grateful to have the leadership and support of @WI_Guard and @ReadyWisconsin as we work around the clock to keep our communities safe. 

Two weeks ago I submitted a request to get Wisconsin’s share of supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS). That includes:

  • N95 Respirators: 54,709
  • Surgical Masks: 130,326
  • Face Shields: 24,816
  • Surgical Gowns: 20,233
  • Coveralls: 104
  • Gloves: 72,044

As of today, we have received about half of these items and have been working this weekend to start distributing this PPE to local communities.

In addition to our SNS shipments, we have also requested PPE from FEMA which is critically necessary to protect our first responders and health care workers who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle.

At the same time, we have continued to work at the state and regional level to purchase supplies and equipment, including PPE, testing supplies, and ventilators.

Wisconsin is competing not just with other states and the federal government but with the entire world to get these supplies—this is a global crisis.

So in addition to working with the federal government to get our share and working to make large purchases in partnership with our neighbors in the Midwest, last week we also launched a PPE Donation and Buyback program.

Wisconsinites can now go to covid19supplies.wi.gov/Donations to either donate or sell large quantities of PPE to the state of Wisconsin, such as masks, gloves, and gowns.

The good news is that, due to the generosity of hundreds of Wisconsin businesses, non-profits, and even individuals, we’ve been able to start distributing donated PPE into our local communities.

But the bad news is that it isn’t enough–we need more. We need PPE and our requested lab supplies in order to increase our capacity to test tens of thousands of Wisconsinites, isolate those who are infected, and do our best to contain the spread of the disease.

We’re headed into the worst of this, folks, and the need is only going to get greater.

Our leadership team at the State Emergency Operations Center has been preparing to support our hospitals and our local and tribal health partners to assist them in setting up voluntary isolation centers.

We’re also working with the Army Corps of Engineers to ensure that field hospitals and facilities will be ready when the surge of acute cases begins to hit our healthcare systems in the coming weeks.

Now, I trust the science, our public health experts, our emergency management professionals, and our military leaders when they say these plans are necessary.

Even still, I sure as heck hope we’re all wrong. But the responsible thing to do is plan for the worst and hope for the best, so that’s what we’re doing.

We can and should learn lessons from other communities—listen to the science, be prepared, act swiftly, and save lives.”

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