Governors Urge Federal Action on Respirators to Support COVID-19 Response

Call for federal liability protection under the PREP act

The nation’s governors call on congressional leaders to take swift action and expand liability protections to ensure a supply of respirators needed to support COVID-19 response efforts.

As governors provide bipartisan, front-line leadership in response to the coronavirus outbreak, they urged congressional support for legislation that would make all National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-approved respirators eligible for protection under the Public Readiness & Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act.

In addition to coordinating state-level responses to the public-health crisis, governors have been working through the National Governors Association to ensure nationwide, coordinated cooperation with Congress and the Administration on best practices to safeguard public health and safety.

The PREP shifts liability from manufacturers, distributors, hospitals, state and local governments, etc. to the federal government when HHS/ASPR issues a declaration regarding the types of drugs, biological products, and PPE that should be deployed during a public health emergency.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is responsible for providing guidance on the appropriate countermeasures that should be deployed.

Due to a technical issue in the underlying federal statute, many of the respirators that are called upon by the CDC to protect our nation’s first responders, doctors, and nurses during a pandemic or other national emergency are not covered by the PREP Act.

Bipartisan, bicameral legislation has already been introduced in Congress to address this issue. Specifically, H.R 4982/S. 3372, the “Health Care Workforce Protection Act,” would ensure all National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-approved respirators would be eligible for PREP Act Protection.

Governors call on Congress to pass this legislative fix and ensure that all NIOSH-certified respirators that are recommended by the CDC for use during a pandemic or other public health emergency are eligible for the same federal liability protection under the PREP Act as drugs, biological products and other medical devices.