|Fri, Mar 27, 8:11 PM (3 days ago)|
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Thank you for the continued discussions regarding the Department of Administration’s funds needed to respond to and prevent the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the safety and health of the people of our state. We recognize that you have expressed an interest in waiting to determine the status of funding passed by Congress and signed by President Trump; however, the state’s receipt of funds remains unresolved and vendor payments will be due prior to the state’s receipt of any available federal assistance. Thus, we are moving forward with the centralized procurement effort proactively to ensure Wisconsin has the necessary resources.
As we have shared during our calls with you and your staff, the Department is the lead agency in procuring resources for local and state COVID-19 response efforts. Our procurement efforts focus on five major objectives:
- Protecting healthcare staff providing direct patient care;
- Reducing the risk of community transmission;
- Protecting frontline healthcare workers such as emergency medical services and law enforcement;
- Preventing and reducing transmission among vulnerable populations; and
- Ensuring continuity of operations in critical healthcare facilities.
The Department is working as quickly as possible to procure the necessary resources to ensure Wisconsin has the facilities, supplies, and personnel to protect the health and safety of our families, our neighbors, and our communities. While we are actively using existing procurement resources and authorities to move forward with small-scale purchases, Wisconsin is competing against other states and countries for scarce medical resources who are likewise working to respond to COVID-19.
We are aggressively working to increase our buying power by coordinating large purchases with regional state partners. The unique nature of the pandemic and emergency response is resulting in an unprecedented consolidated purchasing effort. As perspective, two of the many larger purchases being contemplated include the purchase of 10,000 ventilators at the total cost of between $110 and $380 million or the acquisition of 1,000,000 3M N95 8210 mask at a total cost of $5.35 million. Unfortunately, our need for resources is outpacing the Department’s ability—and therefore our state’s ability—to respond. This is among many reasons we have and will continue to work with your offices on two pieces of emergency legislation that will help us respond to and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
During our check-in calls, your offices have asked us to explicitly prescribe how much additional funding our state will need to respond to COVID-19 and how funding will be used. In the spirit of our continued interest in working together to pass legislation quickly and with bipartisan support, we have worked to be able to provide an estimation of potential funding needs and to generally categorize our expenditures. However, as we have repeatedly expressed on our daily calls and must again stress in providing the below information: we cannot possibly overstate the severity of this situation, the importance of flexibility to respond appropriately and expeditiously to COVID-19, and that any delay in action due to an inability to be nimble could have catastrophic consequences for the people of our state.
Per your request, based on the current situational assessment, the Department recommends the legislature appropriate a conservative estimate of $500 million to cover expenditures directly related to the current public health emergency. Additionally, the Department recommends that a sum sufficient appropriation be created that would allow the Joint Committee on Finance to approve expenditures above the $500 million threshold in an expedited manner. As for how this funding will be used, the Department anticipates that these expenditures would fall into six main categories:
- Purchases of personal protective equipment such as N95 particulate respirator face masks, surgical masks, gloves, face shields and coveralls;
- Purchases of life-saving medical equipment that individual hospitals are unable to procure on the open market, e.g. the Wisconsin Department of Health Services is recommending the purchase of up to 10,000 ventilators to meet an estimated surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations;
- Facility, supply, and staffing costs related to isolation facilities and increasing the state’s hospital bed capacity;
- Purchases of equipment and supplies that support an increase in specimen collection and laboratory testing that would greatly expand the number of Wisconsin citizens that are able to be tested, diagnosed, and treated for COVID-19;
- Purchase of sanitation and general public health goods such as hand sanitizer, antiseptics, and cleaning wipes;
- Expenditures associated with the continuity of state government related to the public health emergency such as expanded CISCO networking gear, new capacities for remote workforce, application development supporting COVID19 procurement and response, and emergency contractual services.
As we have relayed to you consistently during our daily calls, time is of the essence. We do not have the luxury of weeks or months to respond to this crisis. The public’s health and safety must be our top priority, and we must have the ability to adapt quickly to the changing circumstances that COVID-19 presents. We must learn from other states and countries and work to prepare as quickly as we can to address this in Wisconsin, and we have days to do it. To this end, we hope this information will provide you the additional certainty and clarity to be able to move forward and pass legislation quickly to ensure our state has the resources to respond to and prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in Wisconsin.
Thank you for the continued discussion around this matter. Please do not hesitate to reach out with any additional questions.