HIDA Applauds FEMA For Flying Tons Of PPE Supplies To COVID-19 Hot Spots

March 31, 2020

Alexandria, VA – The Health Industry Distributors Association (HIDA) applauds FEMA’s use of air cargo resources to speed the shipment of critical PPE supplies to the U.S.

Through an innovative public-private partnership called Project Airbridge, FEMA and other government agencies will coordinate 50 air cargo flights over the next 2-3 weeks. Each flight will bring tons of medical supplies to U.S. directly to the cities where it is most needed.

“The supply chain has been impacted by COVID-19 to an unprecedented degree,” said HIDA President and CEO Matthew J. Rowan. “Project Airbridge flying PPE into the U.S. is the type of innovative logistics solution demanded by the situation.”

Rear Adm. John Polowczyk, who is leading FEMA's supply chain taskforce, told Axios: "This first one is kind of a proof of concept...these numbers will grow."

The first PPE-filled air freighter landed on March 29th at JFK International Airport in New York from Shanghai, China. It carried 130,000 N-95 masks, 1.8 million surgical masks and gowns, 10 million gloves; and 70,000 thermometers. FEMA will distribute most of the supplies to New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. The remainder will be distributed by commercial distributors and manufacturers to their provider customers including hospitals and nursing homes.

This first Project Airbridge flight was the result of a collaboration between FEMA, the White House and other government agencies with commercial distributors including Cardinal Health, Henry Schein Inc., McKesson, Medline, and Owens & Minor.

Traditionally, PPE supplies are sent to the U.S. via containers that arrive by ship. This can take 30 days or more. Supplies then need to be trucked across country from the port to distribution centers and other providers. Air freight is far more costly than shipping but reduces transit time substantially and can land much closer to the areas of greatest need.

About HIDA

The Health Industry Distributors Association (HIDA) represents the country’s medical product distributors – the nation’s essential link between manufacturers and patient caregivers. HIDA members offer critical services increasing the efficiency of U.S. healthcare providers, including hospitals, nursing homes, laboratories, home care, and physician practices. For more information, visit HIDA.org.

Media Contact:

Wyeth Ruthven

Wyeth Ruthven
Public Affairs Director