Federal Update: Trump Administration to Expand Strategic Stockpile for Pandemic Needs, Schumer ‘Optimistic’ Congress Will Strike a Deal on Coronavirus Relief, Vaccine Won’t be Ready in 18 Months

May 14, 2020

  • The White House is laying out new plans to expand the Strategic National Stockpile after it ran out of critical medical supplies in the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic. Plans unveiled Thursday by President Donald Trump at a visit to a medical supply distribution center in Allentown, Pa., include ensuring there's a 90-day supply of testing supplies and essential drugs, to serve as a backup while the U.S. boosts manufacturing capacity. The stockpile was designed for bioterror threats in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and not for a pandemic like the coronavirus. Retooling it toward pandemic needs could be an important step if a second wave of infections emerges this fall, as many public health experts predict.
  • Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he hopes Congress will be able to push out another coronavirus relief bill to help Americans dealing with financial difficulties because of the pandemic. House Democrats plan to pass a $3 trillion relief package Friday, with proposals in it for more federal money toward state and local governments, testing, and direct payments to Americans, among other things. But Republicans have criticized the plan, referring to it as an expensive wish list. “Despite my worry and concern that our Republicans are sitting on the sidelines, I am optimistic we can get something done,” Schumer said.
  • Unforeseen obstacles to developing a coronavirus vaccine are likely, and that means one won’t be ready for distribution in 18 months, federal whistleblower Rick Bright testified. “A lot of optimism is swirling around a 12-to-18 month time frame if everything goes perfectly. We’ve never seen everything go perfectly,” Bright told members of the House health subcommittee. “I still think 12 to 18 months is an aggressive schedule and I think it’s going to take longer than that to do so.”

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