March 27 (UPI) -- Cities lack sufficient test kits and protective equipment for first responders and hospital personnel on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, a survey of U.S. mayors said on Friday.
Nearly 90 percent of respondents to a survey conducted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors said their cities have an inadequate amount of front-line equipment for dealing with the coronavirus, and 85 percent said their hospitals do not have enough ventilators. The shortages could lead to the coronavirus overwhelming available supplies and personnel.
The non-partisan organization of mayors of cities with populations of at least 30,000 reinforced its call earlier this week for additional federal funding with what it called a "very brief, rapid-turnaround survey of cities, sent to mayors late Friday, March 20, with a Tuesday, March 24 response deadline, intended to document the magnitude of the need for vital protective equipment and supplies." Responses to the survey were received from 213 cities across 41 states and Puerto Rico, representing the home cities of 42 million people.
A 10-page report indicated that 91.5 percent of cities do not have an adequate supply of face masks, 88.2 percent lack other personnel protective equipment, 92.1 percent do not have enough test kits and 85 percent do not have enough available ventilators. It noted that 62.4 percent of respondents said they have not received any emergency equipment or supplies from their state. The report added that there was little variation in adequacy of supplies between large and small cities.
Some mayors specified their needs in contributing to the survey.
The response from Mayor Nan Whaley of Dayton, Ohio, itemized a need for 200,000 N-95 masks, 150,000 pairs of gloves, 150,000 eye protectors, 15,000 P-100 air filters, 15,000 coveralls, 100,000 digital thermometers, 15,000 Tyvek suits and other equipment. Mayor Kevin Scarpati of Meriden, Conn., seeks 20,000 pairs of gloves and 500 thermometers. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan called for 18,000 surgical masks.
Earlier this week the organization asked the U.S. Congress to ensure that a greater number of cities are made eligible for federal resources. Under legislation originally introduced in the House, only cities with populations of 500,000 or more would be eligible for direct federal assistance, leaving the vast majority of cities and residents unable to access the funding.