Washington Legislature

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee listens to a question Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, during the AP Legislative Preview at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash.

(The Center Square) – Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said Wednesday he sent a letter to Vice President Mike  Pence asking for additional support in ramping up domestic personal protective equipment (PPE) production as a means to be prepared for future pandemics.

"More than four months after the first U.S. coronavirus case was confirmed in our state, it is clear that the status quo is not working," Inslee wrote in the letter. "The inadequacy of the federal stockpile, the over reliance on foreign suppliers, and the limited domestic production of PPE have meant that in our time of greatest need, our nation has been unable to adequately protect healthcare and other frontline workers."

Washington state has almost 25,000 confirmed cases and nearly 1,200 deaths from COVID-19, according to state's health department. The state's economy has also been hard-hit from the pandemic, with unemployment being 15.4 percent -- a decrease of 527,000 jobs -- in March alone.

Inslee asked Pence to implore the Defense Production Act to further expand existing PPE shortages as a means to accommodate the state's response measures.

"Our current situation will only become more dire as more businesses reopen and more Americans head back to work — putting additional strain on a system that is already unable to meet demand. States need the federal government to harness its power under the Defense Production Act and finally address the critical need for PPE, in much the same manner as it has done for ventilators and testing supplies," Inslee added. "While the challenges we are facing are significant, they are far from insurmountable."