WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), members of the Senate Commerce Committee, today introduced bipartisan legislation to help ensure manufacturers and distributors can produce respirators during health crises, such as the current COVID-19 epidemic. Other cosponsors of the legislation are Senators Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.).
“With the number of coronavirus cases on the rise, communities need to be able to quickly access CDC-approved equipment to keep Americans safe. Our bipartisan bill would help ensure manufacturers are producing additional respirators. This would assist medical personnel in responding to the outbreak and saving lives,” said Senator Fischer.
“Equipping Arizona communities with respirators, which are critical to treating patients with coronavirus, will help keep Arizonans healthy and safe," said Senator Sinema.
Current law, via the PREP Act, allows the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to issue a declaration granting limited liability protection to manufacturers and distributors of certain countermeasures against diseases—which includes respirators—when the government calls up that equipment to be used in the event of an outbreak or epidemic. However, respirators which are overseen by NIOSH—an office within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—are not currently eligible for that protection.
This legislation would amend the PREP Act to ensure that all NIOSH-certified respirators are eligible for the same federal liability protections as other medical products, vaccines, and drugs.
Representatives Don Bacon (R-Neb.), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), and Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), introduced corresponding legislation in the House of Representatives.
Valley, Nebraska, is home to one of two facilities owned by 3M, the world’s leading manufacturer of respirators.
Click here to view the text of the bill.