In the hopes of avoiding another recession, the United States federal government passed the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act on March 27, 2020. The main goal of the CARES Act is to stimulate the economy by pumping money back into businesses and to families who have been financially burdened by the COVID-19 pandemic. With its narrow focus on the many areas that are in immediate need of assistance, this bill will likely result in more bid opportunities for vendors that can help provide the essential products and services that are needed to manage this crisis.
What Help is Coming and What is Needed?
One of the industries that is currently struggling is the healthcare industry. With COVID-19 cases continuing to rise in the U.S, many hospitals, medical facilities and nursing homes are seeing a surge in patients. Because many areas weren’t prepared for such an increase, essential medical equipment, supplies and personal protective equipment are running low. The CARES Act includes an emergency supplemental appropriations portion which will provide $330 billion in new funding to address this pandemic. This is in addition to the Health Care “Marshall Plan,” which provides certain funding and support for things like medical supplies, free coverage for COVID-19 testing and vaccination, and assistance to the healthcare workforce. Of this $330 billion, much of it will go directly to the healthcare industry.
Here is a breakdown of where most of the funds will be going and what equipment and services are being requested:
- $16 billion to replenish the Strategic National Stockpile inventory of pharmaceuticals, personal protective equipment and other medical supplies
These items are typically distributed to state and local agencies, hospitals and other healthcare entities that face shortages during national emergencies. It’s estimated that $8 billion worth of these supplies are typically in the stockpile, but the stockpile wasn’t at full capacity before the COVID-19 outbreak. Because there isn’t enough supplies and equipment currently in the stockpile to address this pandemic, more is needed quickly. Some of the items that are typically in the stockpile and are in current need of replenishment include:
- IV fluid and kits
- Broad spectrum oral and intravenous antibiotics
- Airway equipment
- Other emergency medicines and supplies
(Source: “Stockpile Products.” phe.gov. 03 Apr. 2020. https://www.phe.gov/about/sns/Pages/products.aspx)
As the need for these supplies’ increases, companies are likely to see bid opportunities being made available for these products.
2.) $4.3 billion to the Center for Disease Control for federal, state and public health agencies to respond to COVID-19
This will likely include the purchase of personal protective equipment, laboratory testing equipment and services, and infection control and mitigation equipment and services. Some of the specific items that will likely be needed include:
- N95 respirators and face masks
- Clothing, gowns/aprons
- Gloves – vinyl, latex, nitrite, & other
- Goggles and face shields
There will likely be opportunities for vendors who can provide these products as well as companies that can conduct testing for the virus.
3.) $45 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Disaster Relief Fund
This fund is for state, local, tribal and territorial governments, as well as private and not-for-profit organizations providing critical services. The products and services that will likely be needed include:
- Purchase and distribution of food, water, and ice
- Purchase and distribution of medicine and other consumable supplies
- Personal protective equipment – gloves, gowns, goggles, masks
- Hazardous material movement of supplies and persons
- Security and law enforcement
- Medical sheltering
(Source: “Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: Eligible Emergency Protective Measures.” Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: Eligible Emergency Protective Measures | FEMA.gov. 03 Apr. 2020. https://www.fema.gov/news-release/2020/03/19/coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-eligible-emergency-protective-measures.)
On March 24th, 2020, the FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) that allows anesthesia gas machines and positive pressure breathing devices to be modified for use as ventilators. FEMA has also issued an RFQ for vendors who can provide these needed medical equipment and supplies.[i] The agency is also looking for businesses who have excess raw material and workforce or factory production capacity to provide support to this effort. Businesses that can provide these products and services can visit fema.gov for more information. With FEMA already issuing RFQ’s for these items, there will be many more bid opportunities for vendors to get involved.
4.) $1 billion to the Defense Production Act
This allocation will enable industries to quickly increase production of personal protective equipment, ventilators and other medical supplies. The Defense Production Act helps support domestic preparedness, response and recovery from national emergencies, hazards or terrorist attacks. Although this act typically empowers the president to order private industries to produce crucial equipment and prioritize federal contracts, it shows how many businesses can quickly shift to producing needed equipment, even when it’s outside their regular scope of work. For example, General Motors has received a federal request to produce ventilators. The company does not normally produce medical equipment but has the equipment and ability to do so. With some creative thinking, many other businesses can shift their focus as well and start bidding on opportunities that can help put an end to the current crisis.
How Your Business Can Help
In addition to the many federal bid opportunities being made available to vendors, state and local governments are also putting out RFP’s and RFQ’s. A few examples of bid opportunities that are currently available include:
- Disinfectant/Cleaning Supplies and PPE in Texas
- Purchase of Biohazard bags in Texas
- COVID-19 Virus – Medical Supplies Needed in New York
- Facility Sanitizing Services in Virginia
- Terminal Cleaning for COVID-19 in California
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in Oregon
In addition, hundreds of bid opportunities are already being released requesting COVID-19 related services across the country. In the weeks to come, more opportunities will be made available for vendors because of the CARES Act. If you are currently bidding or want to start bidding on these opportunities, your assistance is needed more than ever. With your help, many hospitals, medical facilities and nursing homes can get what they need to help fight this pandemic.
Andrea Cortina | BidNet.com
[i] “Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: Supply Chain Stabilization Task Force.” Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: Supply Chain Stabilization Task Force | FEMA.gov. 03 Apr. 2020. https://www.fema.gov/fema-supply-chain-stabilization-task-force.