December 14, 2020

ISEA to meet with Transition Team COVID-19 Advisory Board

ISEA is slated to meet with the Transition Team’s COVID-19 Advisory Board this week.  The association’s key messages will include:

  1. The Defense Production Act’s (DPA) provisions for rated orders and capacity building investments must be used in a cooperative manner with industry, but not used to take control of manufacturing and distribution, as is allowed under Sec. 101(b) of the Act.  See text at the end of the report.  
  2. US-based manufacturers with international supply chains must still be allowed to participate in US Government procurement.
  3. The US Government should move quickly to encourage adoption of reusable respirators to bridge any gap in supply of disposable respirators.

Federal Comments

ISEA members met to craft comments in response to a Department of Commerce comment request about the public health industrial base. ISEA will use this opportunity to share its position statements on domestic sourcing, and anti-counterfeiting/anti-fraud. 

In addition, ISEA members will also gather to formulate comments to an EPA Guidance Document on the agency’s new rules for PFAS. The guidance document is here.

Barrier Face Mask Updates

Healthy Workplaces Tax Credit Act (S. 4214 and H.R. 7615), which create employer tax credits for amounts spent on PPE and other items needed to keep workplaces and workers safe during the pandemic, is not included in draft COVID legislation. However, a new round of outreach is underway.  ISEA will reach out to those on the ISEA ad hoc group to draft a barrier face mask standard to facilitate engagement with lawmakers to ask that this provision be included in legislation.

Contact your Congressional delegation today!

ISEA members can take immediate action via the Int’l Sanitary Supply Association’s (ISSA) Advocacy website. Here, you can send a letter to your US Senators and Representative(s) in a few clicks!

Barrier face mask standard

The ASTM barrier facemask standard is out for ballot. Those on the ASTM F23.65 committee have received their ballot. ISEA is on the committee, and the association will vote according to member input.  The ASTM standard sets the criteria for barrier face masks. The standard allows manufacturers to make product performance claims in accordance with a national consensus standard. The document is aimed mainly at source control masks, but it also includes tests for particulate filtration if manufacturers wish to pursue this level of performance. Publication could come in early 2021.

FEMA, in a related Federal Register announcement, included barrier facemasks in its definition of PPE.  (See page 11 of the link):

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Objects that provide measures of safety protection for healthcare workers, first responders, critical infrastructure personnel and/or the general public for the response to the Pandemic. These PPE items may include, but are not limited to, face coverings, filtering facepiece respirators, face shields, isolation and surgical gowns, examination and surgical gloves, suits, and foot coverings.

NIOSH Director John Howard will speak about working safely during COVID-19 and more in webinar conversation sponsored by Conn Maciel, LLP.  Eric Conn, briefed ISEA members in May about safe work practices during the COVID-19 pandemic.  ISEA members can register for this event here.

Annual federal funding; Allocations announced while a deal hangs in the balance

As Congress looks to finish FY21 funding before closing out for the year, here’s a look at where the House and Senate are for key funding areas.

OSHA

The Senate (bill is here and explanatory statement is here) has proposed $570 million for OSHA, a $10 million cut, which is mainly the Susan Harwood Grant Program, which Congressional GOPs have sought to cut in recent years.  However, the House (explanatory statement is here) has recommended $593 million for OSHA, a $12 million increase over FY20. The House urges OSHA to move forward with an emergency temporary standard.

NIOSH

Both House and Senate basically recommend level funding ($343 million) for NIOSH, with $20 million for NPPTL. Earlier this year, ISEA wrote to HHS Secretary Alex Azar II urging the Department fund upgrades to NIOSH’s buildings, including the test labs, which sorely need it.  ISEA expects that given the outstanding effort and high profile of the National Personal Protective Technologies Lab (NPPTL) during COVID-19, that such funding will be granted.

Strategic National Stockpile

The House recommends $705 million for the Strategic National Stockpile. The House is calling for an investigation into the SNS’s automated inventory system, distribution to States, and availability of needed supplies. The House also calls on SNS to work toward novel stockpiling concepts, including Vendor Managed Inventory, “which will reduce the overhead required to maintain the pandemic stockpile, and will ensure that a safe, reliable supply of pandemic countermeasures are available from vaccine manufacturers.” ISEA and others have called on the US Government to consider this concept as a means to keeping levels of needed supplies at steady levels.

The SNS is maintained under Office of the HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR). CDC still conducts its own pandemic preparedness program. The House is recommending $310 million for CDC’s various pandemic influenza preparedness programs.

Infrastructure Funding and Planning; $14 billion in state funding

While a major transportation deal in Congress is uncertain, the States are moving forward with $14 billion in new funding measures approved in the voting booths around the nation. More from the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) is here

At the Environmental Protection Agency, political appointees plan to finalize five major rules before Inauguration Day. One rule would mandate the gradual replacement of lead and copper pipes for drinking water across the country. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, who has made improving the nation’s water infrastructure a hallmark of his tenure, is said to be pressing hard to finalize it.

DPA, Sec. 101(b) / 50 USC 4511(b):  (b) Critical and strategic materials:  The powers granted in this section shall not be used to control the general distribution of any material in the civilian market unless the President finds (1) that such material is a scarce and critical material essential to the national defense, and (2) that the requirements of the national defense for such material cannot otherwise be met without creating a significant dislocation of the normal distribution of such material in the civilian market to such a degree as to create appreciable hardship.


If you would like additional information on any of these items or other issues impacting your company, please contact Dan Glucksman at [email protected] or at 703-795-6064.