VA Secretary Wilkie: 'We Are The Surge Force' In an interview with NPR, Secretary for Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie said the department was ready to deploy if called on to help with the coronavirus pandemic response.
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VA Secretary Wilkie: 'We Are The Surge Force'

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VA Secretary Wilkie: 'We Are The Surge Force'

VA Secretary Wilkie: 'We Are The Surge Force'

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

And we asked Quil Lawrence, who, as you heard, covers Veterans Affairs for us, to listen into that. Quil is with me now. What did you hear?

QUIL LAWRENCE, BYLINE: First off, many of the measures that he talked about in VA facilities have been in place - publicly announced, anyway - for days, not weeks. But the most striking example was that HHS hasn't asked the VA to move any resources yet. Here in New York, for example, we're short of 30,000 intensive care units for the protected needs, so you'd expect those to be moving.

Also, we are just hearing that Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has asked President Trump to be able to send some of his patients in Louisiana to VA hospitals there.

KELLY: And to follow up on a question you heard me put to the secretary there, where I was citing your reporting, that you are hearing from frontline staff saying they don't have everything they need, give us just a little more detail on what exactly you are hearing.

LAWRENCE: Yeah, I'm hearing desperate calls from frontline doctors on both coasts saying that they think they're going to run out of protective gear and masks soon. They said, do whatever you can to get us more. They've talked about reusing gowns. These are dedicated people, but they feel like the wave is about to break on them.

KELLY: That is NPR's Quil Lawrence.

Thank you so much, Quil.

LAWRENCE: Thank you, Mary Louise.

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