It’s About More Than Just Meeting Demand.
The novel coronavirus has transformed our nation in countless ways. It has threatened the physical and economic health of every American family. It has tested the limits of our healthcare system and endangered the medical heroes who sacrifice their wellbeing to save lives. The crisis has impacted businesses large and small, with the shockwaves spanning states and industries.
Manufacturers have been far from immune to COVID-19. In a recent National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) study, 53.1% of manufacturers anticipate needing to change their operations in the coming months. More than one in three was already facing supply chain issues as of early March. But for manufacturers, the crisis has also fueled a renewed focus on producing critical items domestically. First and foremost is the need for personal protective equipment, or PPE.
The first argument for American Made PPE is often about availability. And it’s true that COVID-19 exposed the dangers of importing 30% of our nation’s PPE from China. But job creation, faster mobilization and preparation for future crises should all be part of the argument for manufacturing PPE domestically—and supporting the U.S. PPE supply chain.
Mobilize quickly to support our own
In typical situations, importing 30% of our PPE from China is less than ideal. During COVID-19, it’s a full-blown crisis. Globally, China manufacturers about 50% of the world’s masks and respirators. When the outbreak struck Wuhan, China needed the PPE. There simply wasn’t enough to satisfy its own skyrocketing local demand and the equally high demand from countries in Europe and North America. This shortage left millions of our medical heroes at risk. Many resorted to reusing masks or creating makeshift coverings that did little to protect them from COVID-19 exposure. The FDA’s recently released conservation strategies underscore the persistence, and threat, of PPE shortages for American healthcare providers.
When our medical heroes sounded the alarm, America’s manufacturers answered the call. Major manufacturers like 3M have pledged to produce upwards of one billion masks by the end of 2020. Companies large and small have stepped up and pivoted to producing PPE in America. But our domestic manufacturers want to do even more to protect our nation’s medical workers and fulfill PPE demand across the nation. With the right support, we can.
When we manufacture and source PPE domestically, we can mobilize quickly to provide the protection our critical workers require. Now is the chance for us to strengthen every link in the American PPE manufacturing supply chain so that we’re not reliant on foreign sources for critical equipment. By controlling every aspect of the supply chain, we can set the quality standards and increase production without relying on foreign supply. (Want a case study in the power of domestic manufacturing? Take a look at South Korea.)
Boost the U.S. economy
Since mid-March, more than 33 million people have filed for unemployment. That’s roughly 21% of the Americans who had jobs in February. By committing to manufacturing PPE domestically, we can play our part in getting Americans back to work.
As an essential aspect of America’s GDP, manufacturing has a significant impact on the health of our nation’s economy. From upstream activities such as purchasing raw mask and gown materials to the downstream work performed in the factory all the way to the loading dock, the economic impact of manufacturing PPE in the U.S.A cannot be overstated. By bringing PPE manufacturing back to America’s shores, we can safeguard our medical heroes, empower our workers and revive an economy damaged by the pandemic.
Prepare for what’s next
When a once-in-a-lifetime event like the COVID-19 pandemic hits, it’s easy to think about what could have been done to prevent it. Hindsight is 20/20, and we have the power to use the challenges of COVID-19 to strengthen the domestic supply chain for what comes next. That includes the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19, which the American Medical Association predicts could look a lot like the one we’re on the tail end of now.
We’re already seeing Made in the USA PPE bills introduced to Congress, and the momentum for domestically produced PPE is undeniable. Meanwhile, thought leaders like the Harvard Business Review are busy outlining key strategies for everything from avoiding future PPE supply chain bottlenecks to closer government collaboration. The common thread is clear: by supporting America’s PPE supply chain now, we can build a foundation that ensures every doctor, first responder, nurse, industrial worker and, ultimately, every American citizen, is protected when the next crisis strikes.
At APMA, we’re proud to defend the manufacturers and partners that make up America’s PPE supply chain. If you’re ready to answer the call for American Made PPE, join our community today. We’re here to connect you with the advocacy, resources and support that you need to grow this critical movement.