WASHINGTON — The White House aims to ramp up the production of critical supplies and reevaluate supply chains to replenish the nation's strategic stockpile as Americans brace for a resurgence of the deadly virus in the fall, according to a senior administration official.
"When Covid broke out in the U.S., we had one to three weeks worth of supply for most of the items in our stockpile," the official, who declined to be named, told reporters on a call Thursday. "What we're doing is creating a much more robust, much more capable and much less vulnerable strategic national stockpile," the official added.
The coronavirus originated near the city of Wuhan in China's Hubei province and has since triggered a global pandemic that has hit the U.S. harder than any other country. More than 1.3 million cases and at least 84,136 deaths have so far been counted in the U.S., data from Johns Hopkins University show.
Another senior administration official added that the number of N95 masks in the nation's stockpile is expected to jump from approximately 13 million to 300 million by the fall.
"We had 2 million gowns; we expect to have 6 [million] to 7 million gowns," the official added. "For many of the critical care drugs that are necessary for people on ventilators we had zero, and we will have millions of milliliters of those."
When asked about the latest U.S. unemployment numbers, another White House official, who declined to be named, explained that by replenishing the stockpile, Americans will be able to get back to work safely.
"We do know that masks and protective equipment are essential for many workers who have interactions with their customers and co-workers every day, so we're cognizant of that," the official said, adding that the administration did not have "an estimate of how many jobs that will save or how many people will go back to work."
The Labor Department reported another dismal round of U.S. unemployment data on Thursday, with 2.9 million claims during the week ending May 9. The new claims brought the total to nearly 36.5 million over the past two months, by far the biggest loss in U.S. history.
"We're making sure that as we go into the fall we're in a position where America never has to shut down again," another official added.