NEW JERSEY – In an effort to better equip New Jersey for any future public health crises, bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senators Linda Greenstein and Steve Oroho, that would authorize New Jersey manufacturers to convert their productions to focus on creating Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which many have been unable to do during the pandemic without federal approval, was approved by the Senate on Thursday.
The bill, S-2991, would create a state-level certification program to allow manufacturers to produce PPE. The measure would help to strengthen our stockpiles, which faced severe shortages of masks, gloves, gowns, and other Personal Protective Equipment at the height of the pandemic.
“New Jersey has many manufacturers who are willing to commit their operations to produce personal protective equipment when called to action,” said Greenstein (D-Middlesex/Mercer) the chair of the Legislative Manufacturing Caucus. “The COVID-19 pandemic taught us that we cannot always rely on the federal government’s support and underscores the need for ‘Made in New Jersey’ PPE. Our state must be prepared to protect our citizens and our healthcare professionals, many of which were greatly impacted by the shortage of PPE. Enlisting our manufacturers and their workers will not only bolster their operations, but will make certain that we meet the needs of our state during any public health emergency.”
“Many state-of-the-art manufacturing companies are based right here in New Jersey,” said Oroho (R-Sussex/Warren/Morris) co-chair of the Legislative Manufacturing Caucus. “These businesses and their skilled, dedicated workers are prepared and ready to step up and help the state increase its life-sustaining stockpile of PPEs. High-quality made-in-New-Jersey gear will ensure a sufficient supply of masks, gloves and medical gowns to protect health care workers and patients during the pandemic.”
The bill would establish an approval process and set a goal for manufacturers in the state to produce a minimum of 50 percent of the stockpiled PPE. This would prevent scarcities in the future and at the same time bolster the New Jersey manufacturing industry.
Under the bill, PPE within a year of expiration would be provided to state healthcare facilities, federally qualified health centers, and public schools at no cost, nonprofits at 75 percent of the cost, and businesses at market price. This would provide a constant flow of equipment, at a reduced cost, to those that need it most.
“The state needs to source reliable PPEs, and what better suppliers than the State’s essential manufacturers who have an inherent interest in keeping New Jersey residents safe and employed. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many manufacturers retooled to supply PPE. Whether it was masks, gowns, shields or hand sanitizer, somewhere in NJ it was being manufactured in response to the critical needs. I applaud the Legislature for creating this legislation and foreseeing and creating a win-win situation that keeps PPE ‘Made in NJ’,” said John W. Kennedy, CEO of the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program (NJMEP).
The bill was approved by the Senate with a vote of 40-0.