TRENTON – In an effort to better equip New Jersey for any future public health crises, members of the Legislature have introduced bipartisan legislation to authorize New Jersey manufacturers to convert their productions to focus on creating Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which many were unable to do during the pandemic without federal approval.
The bill, S-2991/A-4811, would create a state-level certification program to allow manufacturers in the state 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 Senator Greenstein (D-Middlesex/Mercer). “We must ensure that our state is well prepared to protect our healthcare professionals and all of our citizens when faced with a public health crisis. The COVID pandemic taught us that we cannot always rely on the federal government’s support and underscores the need for ‘Made in New Jersey’ 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.”
“This bill fulfills the mission of the Manufacturing Caucus – helping New Jersey manufacturers thrive for the benefit of New Jersey residents,” said Senator Steve Oroho (R-Sussex/Warren/Morris). “Businesses in the state are well-equipped with a skilled workforce to produce quality PPE and help ensure a sufficient supply of protective gloves, masks and gowns to defend against a viral outbreak and protect medical workers and patients. ‘Made in New Jersey’ makes us Jersey strong.”
S-2991/A-4811 is the companion legislation to S-2991, a bipartisan bill that was introduced earlier this year by Senators Linda Greenstein and Steve Oroho, the chair and co-chair of the Legislative Manufacturing Caucus, that 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.
“COVID-19 has shown New Jersey’s strengths, weaknesses, and, most importantly, our resiliency. The uncertainty of this pandemic has proven we must be proactive and prepare for an event of a second wave or future pandemic. I am proud to be sponsoring legislation that will give New Jersey an opportunity to combat any future health crisis by creating a ready stockpile of PPE for our residents, health care workers, and businesses,” said Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak (D-Middlesex).
“Our state has a critical need for obtaining well-made, quality personal protective equipment to safeguard our health care professionals, first responders and those who care for others throughout our communities,” said Assemblywoman Betty Lou DeCroce (R-Morris), who is the ranking Assembly Republican on the Legislative Manufacturing Caucus. “We know that our New Jersey manufacturing workers are unsurpassed in their commitment to providing top notch products and this bill will help put them in the forefront in the fight against this pandemic.”
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 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).