The magnitude of the COVID-19 coronavirus is so great that the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) is taking full actions to protect the DoD and federal agencies from the virus, to the tune of more than $2 billion in medical supplies such as test kits, ventilators, and pharmaceutical materials in addition to masks, gloves, and medical gowns (see figure). The DLA purchased many of the medical supplies on behalf of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of the battle against the pandemic. The DLA provides support as part of its long-standing agreements with FEMA and HHS.
Peter Battaglia, a customer relations process owner for DLA Logistics Operations who also serves on DLA's COVID-19 Task Force, said: “These agreements allow for mutual support during standard operations and emergencies.” By using medical readiness contracts that were part of its warstopper program, DLA has provided almost 3 million N95 masks, 1 million pairs of gloves, 140,000 medical gowns, and 10,000 face shields in the war against the COVID-19 coronavirus. Some items were distributed in March to military field hospitals deployed to the hardest-hit areas throughout the country. Others were used on the U.S. Naval Hospital Ships Mercy and Comfort or prioritized for distribution by HHS and the White House supply chain task force.
With the warstopper-funded contracts, the DLA could plan for surges in demand of critical medical supplies. According to Luis Villarreal, DLA’s industrial capability and warstopper program manager, “There’s no way anybody could do anything like that without the structure of our warstopper contracts.” Dave Kless, DLA's executive director of operations, said the agency's participation in planning efforts with FEMA, HHS, the White House supply chain task force, and DoD's joint acquisition task force enabled the agency to quickly respond to demand spikes caused by COVID-19. “We shared vital information on incoming requests with our key suppliers and discussed financial and logistics issues with them on a daily basis,” he said.