Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson talks to a gathering at Holt Arena in Pocatello in January.
Congressman Mike Simpson has joined a host of House members from the Pacific Northwest thanking Vice President Mike Pence for making additional ventilators in federal stockpiles available to the region, which has many fewer ventilators per capita than other regions of the country.
“The resources are especially needed in the Pacific Northwest which has disproportionately fewer ventilators than the rest of the county,” the letter noted. “The most recent data from HHS and the American Association for Respiratory Care found that Washington and Oregon only have 13 ventilators per 100,000 people and Idaho only has 12 ventilators per 100,000. Comparatively the state median number of ventilators per 100,000 people is 20.5.”
The letter notes that the surge of COVID-19 cases in Italy has overwhelmed the ventilator capacity there, forcing Italian health care workers to choose which patients have the best shot of surviving and reserving ventilators for them. It notes that the Pacific Northwest could easily face a situation similar to Italy’s if there is a surge in critical cases.
“We urge the White House to convene every ventilator manufacturer with the purpose of developing a collective national manufacturing goal to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak,” the letter states. “The stories that have come out of Italy are heart-wrenching but we are hopeful that with strategic decision making we can avoid a similar outcome.”
In an interview, Simpson said he has also been working with the Trump Administration to ensure that the H2A visa program, which allows farms to bring in guest workers from Mexico to help with agricultural work, will continue to function. Keeping Idaho’s agricultural system running, he said, is vital to feeding the country.
Simpson encouraged local residents who are not yet engaged in social distancing, regular hand-washing and other measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to begin doing so immediately.
“Take this very, very seriously,” he said. “The only way we’re going to get on top of this is for people to follow the guidance of the CDC. … As we do more and more testing, the numbers are going to get worse before they get better.”