PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- During the President's visit to Allentown Thursday afternoon, he announced an upgrade to the National Strategic Stockpile that stores needed materials for a pandemic.
One local Pittsburgh man is right in the middle of that policy change.
Paul Mango, a North Hills resident who ran for the Republican nomination for governor in 2018, is now Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services where he is working quickly to upgrade the nation's stockpile of masks, ventilators, and gowns.
"We only had a week or two of N95 masks in our stockpile because it had never been replenished," Mango told KDKA political editor Jon Delano in a Thursday interview.
When this pandemic began, Mango says the 100 million masks once in the stockpile during the H1N1 flu epidemic had dwindled to just 13 million masks when 30 million masks a month are required.
That's why the President announced an upgrade to the Stockpile, says Mango.
"It's going to be a much more robust stockpile, meaning it's going to have 90 days of supplies instead of one or two weeks," says Mango.
"It's going to carry items that we've never carried before in terms of like critical care drugs that patients on ventilators need. So it's going to be broader and deeper than ever before."
A second component of the upgrade is better technology.
"We've overlaid an information technology platform that gives us insight into what's being shipped from our factories, what's in the warehouses, what's being shipped to our hospitals so we can identify much earlier where shortages will be."
A bigger problem, says Mango, is America's dependence on foreign suppliers.
"What we learned during the last three months is of all of the vital supplies we needed to treat patients more than 50 percent of them were manufactured outside the United States."
That means, says Mango, a greater emphasis on Buying American in the months ahead.
The goal is to have the National Strategic Stockpile fully stocked by this Fall.
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