In a March 23 letter
, AACI implored President Donald Trump to immediately invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA) to marshal American manufacturing to forcefully confront the COVID-19 emergency. As of March 23 the president had yet to fully invoke and utilize the DPA, while cancer centers continued to weigh in with their members of Congress on their respective situations as it related to personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies.
Signed by the leaders of 97 AACI cancer centers in the United States, the letter noted that patients with cancer are particularly susceptible to serious complications and poor outcomes from COVID-19, and that some cancer center patients have already contracted the virus and died from respiratory failure.
A widespread shortage of PPE is seriously compounding the crisis for patients and health care providers, according to the letter. Such equipment includes surgical and N95 masks, gowns, nasal swabs, and face shields, as well as advanced life support systems, such as ventilators and ECMO devices.
Patients with cancer generally require frequent interactions with health care providers, who are being increasingly affected themselves with COVID-19.
"[T]he situation is already desperate in many of our hospitals," cancer center directors wrote. "Failure to act decisively and immediately will undoubtedly result in the tragic, massive, and ultimately avoidable loss of many American lives."
Beyond implementing the DPA to boost PPE manufacturing, AACI requested that the president mobilize military units, such as the Army Corps of Engineers, to aid in rapid construction of temporary hospital facilities, and to direct military medical personnel to assist frontline emergency room and intensive care unit workers.
In a March 27 presidential memorandum, President Trump directed his administration to use "any and all authority available under the Defense Production Act to require General Motors to accept, perform, and prioritize Federal contracts for ventilators."
AACI is encouraging cancer centers to share the letter with their members of Congress to highlight the continued urgent need for PPE.
Download and Share the Letter