UPPER MACUNGIE TOWNSHIP, Pa. (CBS) — Calling it a “groundbreaking initiative,” President Donald Trump unveiled a plan Thursday to fully replenish the nation’s emergency supplies by the fall, while visiting a medical supply facility in Lehigh Valley. Trump revealed the Strategic National Stockpile 2.0 initiative at the Owens & Minor distribution center in Upper Macungie Township.
“Just as the men and women of Allentown have done in every generation, the workers at this facility have answered the call in this hour of need,” Trump said.
Trump says the stockpile will have three months worth of supplies under the new plan.
“Never again will another president inherit empty shelves or expired products,” the president said.
Trump says his administration has ordered 200,000 ventilators and 800 million N95 respirators and face masks. The White House is awarding many of these contracts to American manufacturing plants in an effort to bring jobs back to the U.S. and become less reliant on China.
“We’ll continue to partner with American industry to help manage and rotate our massive inventory,” Trump said.
During his remarks, Trump revealed that he knew five people who have died from the coronavirus, including two good friends.
“This is just a terrible, terrible thing,” Trump said.
Trump also took a dig at Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, saying he needs to open up the commonwealth “a little bit.”
As Trump looks to replenish the stockpile by the fall, equipment still can’t come quick enough for some hospitals.
“Every health system is continuing to be challenged with getting supplies that we need,” said Dr. Jonathan Gleason, chief quality officer at Jefferson Health.
At Jefferson Health, staff are reusing supplies like masks they would have previously thrown away after one use.
Trinity Healthcare, which operates Mercy Catholic Medical Center in Darby and Nazareth Hospital in Northeast Philadelphia added that “certain items continue to be a challenge to acquire, especially gowns, hair and shoe coverings as well as disinfectant wipes.”
Still, the president insists his new initiative would keep supplies in the national stockpile than ever before, including ten times the number of N95 face masks.
“Our effort begins by dramatically increasing our reserves. Instead of one to three weeks’ worth of supplies, which we had less than that, the U.S. government will now stockpile three whole months, much of it made in the U.S.A.,” Trump said.
However, Democrats believe Trump could have acted sooner.
“Unfortunately, he didn’t do that when he could have invoked the Defense Production Act to produce the PPE we need, the testing we need,” Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey said.
Trump also says the nation’s new stockpile strategy will ask private companies to keep certain supplies on hand in case of a future pandemic.
CBS3’s Matt Petrillo contributed to this report.