As commander in chief, it’s Trump’s responsibility to get these essential workers what they need. Trump should immediately task a Supply Commander to take command of the national supply chain for essential equipment, medications, and protective gear. We can no longer leave this to the private sector. The Supply Commander should work with every governor to determine their needs, and then coordinate production and delivery of those needs in a timely and efficient manner. And, the Supply Commander should direct the distribution of critical equipment as cases peak at different times in different states or territories. That goes for ventilators, masks, gowns, face shields, lab equipment, tests and testing components, medicines, and all other critical materials.
Where they haven’t, states and territories should each appoint their own Supply Leads to coordinate with the federal effort and ensure a special emphasis on communities with traditionally underserved populations. This means requiring uniform data reporting to uncover the true extent of health disparities from COVID-19 and ensuring lifesaving equipment and supplies reaches them. The Supply Commander should report directly to Trump, not get buried in the bureaucracy, and transparently update the public daily on progress. The National Governors Association can assist in this effort by helping aggregate state’s demand in a uniform way with common definitions and reporting.
And, the Supply Commander must work with Governors to draw on the support of the National Guard and a newly hired and trained U.S. Public Health Corps, including mobilized AmeriCorps and Peace Corps volunteers and those laid off by this crisis, to assess inventory of critical supplies and assist with their equitable distribution among other functions.