In a Wednesday press conference, Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York and vice-chair of the National Governor’s Association, told reporters there were talks of states banding together if the federal government continued to resist taking control of the supply chain.
Cuomo called a consortium an “Option B,” stressing that the federal government’s involvement in purchasing and disseminating supplies was still the preferred choice.
NGA press secretary James Nash, confirmed the conversations around the notion of a multi-state consortium.
“Governors have been discussing this idea through the National Governor’s Association,” Nash told CNN, but did not provide any other details.
Politico was the first to report these discussions.
With the stockpile nearly depleted of medical supplies, Democratic and Republican governors have continued to plead with the administration to use the Defense Production Act to take over the supply chain, particularly the allocation of medical supplies. The current system has states competing with each other, the federal government, and foreign and private entities for supplies like gloves, masks and ventilators.
“We are never going to solve this problem if states are continually forced to bid against each other and against the federal government,” Kansas Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly said earlier this week. “It is creating widespread confusion among all the state suppliers, and it is delaying every state’s response effort, including Kansas … it is also driving up the cost of PPE tremendously for every state.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday announced a new partnership with the private sector and non-profit actors in an attempt to procure more PPE.
“In an effort not to play small ball and effort to really organize to meet the audacious goal that we had over 500 million PPE that we announced a few weeks back based upon our modeling, we decided to retool our efforts, refocus on our vendors, refocus on our supply chains,” Newsom told reporters.
These new supply chains, Newsom estimated, should allow California to procure “roughly 150,000,000 N95s on a monthly basis, and 50 million surgical masks on a monthly basis” from multiple contracts and multiple sources.
Cuomo said he had not spoken to Newsom about this announcement Wednesday.
Currently, multiple states are already working with one another to both unify the response to coronavirus and secure supplies, but a source familiar with the conversations around a consortium describes this as a much bigger effort that would ultimately involve all 50 states.