FEMA's Unified Coordination Group approved the phaseout, "recognizing the PPE supply chain is stabilizing across the nation," the agency said. That group includes senior leaders representing state and federal interests, and in some cases, tribal governments, local jurisdictions, the private sector or nongovernmental organizations.
C.H. Robinson CEO Bob Biesterfeld told Supply Chain Dive that, even though the frenzy of sourcing PPE overseas the past few months may be calming down, PPE procurement is nowhere near any form of normal. The virus is still spreading and freight capacity remains shaken up. C.H. Robinson is part of the Minnesota Task Force that brought together public and private expertise to help the state acquire PPE.
"Whereas air was likely heavily used on the front-end to establish an immediate stockpile or respond to an immediate increase in demand, now there's the ability to start to balance the portfolio of modes being used," Biesterfeld said.
Traditionally, PPE would be transported to the U.S. via ocean carrier, taking 30-40 days, according to FEMA. The agency tapped private airlines to expedite the process as stocks of essential supplies began to dwindle. Instead of a month or more, the "airbridge" took two days.