The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is stockpiling millions of dollars' worth of protective medical gear to treat as many as 50 Ebola patients in the United States.
Officials have ordered $2.7 million worth of CDC-approved protective gear that could be deployed to any hospital with an Ebola patient. Each kit is enough to care for an Ebola patient for five days.
The order comes amid a “sudden increase in demand” by hospitals across the country, though CDC officials said it will not take priority over hospitals’ own purchases.
“We are making certain to not disrupt the orders submitted by states and hospitals, but we are building our stocks so that we can assist when needed,” Greg Burel, director of CDC’s Division of Strategic National Stockpile, said in a release.
The federal government took flak last month after a 43-page audit of the Department of Homeland Security revealed that its emergency stockpile of medical supplies was poorly managed and likely ineffective to treat a pandemic like Ebola.
The CDC has also prioritized hospital safety after two Dallas nurses became infected with Ebola disease while treating a patient.
Facing criticism for its relatively low medical standards compared to other parts of the world, the CDC recently released new, stronger guidelines for protective gear.
The agency has also worked to equip hospitals to fight Ebola since the first case was diagnosed in the U.S. in late September, and this week requested $1.83 billion to fight the disease both in the U.S. and overseas.
The CDC’s order comes as the Obama administration is asking Congress for $6.18 billion in additional funding to fight Ebola, a massive increase over previous requests. The administration has urged Congress to release the emergency funding as soon as possible.