Iowa using several methods to obtain medical supplies amid national shortage

The National Guard, strategic stockpile, and in-state manufacturing are a few ways Iowa agencies are addressing a statewide and national medical-supply shortage.


Katina Zentz

Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during the Condition of the State address at the Iowa State Capitol on Jan. 14.

Caleb McCullough, Assistant Politics Editor

As COVID-19 cases climb in Iowa, the state is using several avenues to obtain medical supplies and avoid overwhelming the health-care system, Gov. Kim Reynolds said in a press conference Wednesday. 

State officials have largely withheld specific information on numbers of supplies on hand in the state, but Reynolds said there is a national shortage of personal protective equipment and that shortage is seen in Iowa as well. 

The Iowa National Guard distributed such equipment to five counties on Tuesday and will distribute more throughout the week.

The state is tapping into the strategic national stockpile, a store of medical supplies for public-health emergencies, as well as purchasing directly to obtain supplies, Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Joyce Flinn said Wednesday. She said Iowa agencies are also looking into making needed medical products. 

Reynolds said the state currently has around 280 ventilators, and has put in an order for more. She also said health-care providers are looking at ways to convert existing medical equipment into ventilators.

While Reynolds didn’t say whether Iowa’s hospitals were prepared to deal with the strain caused by increasing cases of COVID-19, she said hospitals and state agencies are preparing for the worst-case scenario.

“Everything that we’ve done and every policy, procedure that we’ve put in place has been put in place in order to not overwhelm and see that surge and place the health-care system in jeopardy,” she said.

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Iowa rose to 145 on Wednesday. President Trump also approved a major disaster declaration in the state to unlock additional federal resources, joining New York, Louisiana, California, Washington, and Texas.