LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — In front of a national audience this weekend, Gov. Steve Sisolak addressed issues in getting supplies from the federal government for healthcare workers in Nevada to adequately fight the sweeping coronavirus pandemic.
Sisolak said the state needs test kits, personal protective equipment also known as PPE, and ventilators, but requests have often gone unfilled by the federal government.
"I've been on all of the conference calls that we've had with the president and vice president," he told CNN's Don Lemon on Saturday.
Sisolak says Nevada is on an indefinite backlog for requested COVID-19 test kits, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, and despite four requests, he says the federal government hasn't sent any to the state.
The governor says all of the kits available in Nevada have been purchased by private labs or donated.
"That's the only way we've received any test kits whatsoever," he said.
The federal government has provided about a quarter of the PPE -- such as gloves, masks, and gowns -- that Sisolak has requested to protect healthcare workers, and private donations have played a crucial role in keeping nurses and doctors protected.
Sisolak says he fears what could happen if the problem balloons to levels the healthcare industry can't handle given the limited number of ventilators available to keep people breathing.
He says Nevada is a relatively small state competing with much larger ones for access to the ventilators.
"You're talking 30, 40,000 ventilators," Sisolak said of nationwide demand for the medical machines. "I have 838 ventilators in the state of Nevada. That's what I have."
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"40% of them are in use right now," he explained. "We watch this every single day, how many of our ventilators are in use. I hope we don't get to where we're at 100% usage, but that day could possibly come."
Sisolak says his number one business in this crisis is to save lives and once again urged people to stay home to prevent the disease from overwhelming the existing medical supplies and the healthcare system.