DLA Distribution Provides COVID-19 Support to Military Services & Federal Agencies

Jan 19, 2021 | Defense Transportation Journal, DTJ Online

In support of the military services and other federal agencies during the COVID-19 pandemic, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Distribution provides assistance as part of DLA’s long-standing agreements with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).


The agency responded early and often to requests from military services and federal agencies focused on winning the COVID-19 battle and continues distributing critical supplies.

Defense Logistics Agency Distribution San Diego, California, makes daily medical supply truck deliveries to the USNS Mercy, staged in the Los Angeles Port of San Pedro, where sailors provide operational medicine support to help with the COVID-19 outbreak May 13, 2020. Photo by LT Marc Walker, USN, DLA Distribution San Diego/Released.

From the onset of the pandemic through the end of 2020, DLA Distribution centers received and/or shipped 39,500 Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, over 400 vaccine ancillary kits, 1.5 million N95 respirator masks, 20 million other masks, 1.2 million face shields, more than 517,000 bottles of hand sanitizer, more than 66,000 thermometers, 39,000 testing swabs, 1.5 million rapid COVID-19 test cards, 157,000 COVID-19 rapid test kits, an additional 100,000 COVID-19 test kits, 500 ventilators, 7.3 million medical gloves, 110,000 exam gloves, and 350 oxygen tanks.


In March, DLA Distribution Europe worked with the 21st Theater Sustainment Command to distribute 42 pallets of American Red Cross comfort packs to nine locations throughout the US European Command as part of the regional response. Personal protective equipment was also distributed to military field hospitals deployed to the hardest-hit areas throughout the US.

Defense Logistics Agency Distribution Commander BGen Keith D. Reventlow, USMC, center, and DLA Distribution Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, Commander COL Trent Conner, USA, right, inspect N95 masks destined for over 3,000 nursing homes for the Department of Health and Human Services as DLA Distribution assists nursing homes dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic August 28, 2020. Photo by Nutan Chada, DLA Public Affairs/Released.

DLA Distribution Susquehanna, Pennsylvania (DDSP), the Defense Department’s largest distribution processing facility, began processing COVID-19 test kits, ventilators, hand sanitizers, masks, cots, hand-washing stations, industrial goggles, industrial face shields, and breathing sets in April. The DDSP Transportation Services Team also shipped more than 72,000 Meals-Ready-to-Eat and nearly 1.1 million shelf-stable meals to support FEMA, US Northern Command, and US Indo-Pacific Command.


When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended the wearing of cloth face coverings on April 3, DLA responded quickly. Working in conjunction with DLA Troop Support Medical, DDSP received 20 million manufacturer-donated cloth face masks from HHS. The company retrofitted factories in March to make the masks, which military services and federal, state, and authorized local governmental agencies ordered by cases of 500 from FedMall, a government e-commerce platform.


DLA Distribution Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania (DDTP), and Tobyhanna Army Depot (TYAD) worked together in early April to support an urgent Army Medical Materiel Development Activity request for more than 300 oxygen tanks. DDTP and TYAD expedited the tank shipment to hospitals to aid in the treatment of the rapidly spreading virus.


The USS Nimitz contacted DLA Distribution Puget Sound, Washington (DDPW), April 17, requesting distribution assistance for over 3,000 COVID-19 test kits. DDPW received the test kits on April 20, immediately packaged the kits, and established priority overnight delivery to key Navy test sites in California.


As Navy hospital ships prepared to deploy to support the pandemic, DLA Distribution Norfolk, Virginia, and federal agencies turned the USNS Comfort, a 250-bed operation, into a 1,000-bed operation in five days. Personal protective equipment, food, and consumables were loaded before the hospital ship set sail to New York City in April.


Meanwhile, DLA Distribution San Diego, California (DDDC), loaded 100 pallets of 6,000 medical items including test kits and dressings for USNS Mercy at the Port of Los Angeles. After the initial supply push, DDDC made three deliveries each week to the USNS Mercy until it left Los Angeles on May 15 for its home port in San Diego.


“With the constant change in support levels due to COVID-19, the one constant was our logistics community. DDDC assured continuous, on-time deliveries, and neither the 3rd Fleet nor the ship had to double back to rework distribution issues with leadership. We could not have asked for better service from DLA,” said RADM Kenneth R. Blackmon, USN, Deputy Commander, US 3rd Fleet.


The San Diego distribution center also sent about 380 shipments of personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies, medical equipment, and repair parts to the USS Theodore Roosevelt in Guam, over 3,000 types of material to the USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group, and more than 5,000 items to the USS Makin Island’s Expeditionary Strike Group.


To support the US European Command, DLA Distribution Europe and DLA Troop Support arranged for the shipment of 14 pallets of personal protective suits to DLA Distribution Europe’s Theater Consolidation and Shipping Point in Germersheim, Germany. The suits were delivered by commercial trucks to troops in Italy, Germany, Belgium, Romania, and Poland May 8-29.


In June, DLA Distribution Yokosuka, Japan, collaborated with 7th Fleet officials to distribute more than 16,000 face masks, 186,000 gloves, 1,500 protective suits, and over 600 goggles to ships from Naval Force Yokosuka, Japan; Fleet Activities Sasebo, Japan; the USS Nimitz, and the USS Theodore Roosevelt to help control the virus’ spread.


In an ongoing mission throughout July, DDSP’s Mechanicsburg location received over 95 trucks of protective equipment including 4 million isolation gowns and face shields to support FEMA’s assistance to hospitals dealing with rising COVID-19 infections across the country.


“Our logistics professionals at DDSP are committed to assisting FEMA and our other interagency partners to meet the needs of the nation during this critical time,” said DDSP Commander COL Trenton Conner, USA.


As the nation braced for an anticipated second wave of COVID-19 in the fall, DLA and Veterans Health Administration (VHA) officials partnered to ensure over 1,200 Department of Veterans Affairs’ health care facilities nationwide had 120 days of personal protective equipment. In addition, DDSP received, stored, and distributed equipment to free VHA’s limited storage, saving millions of dollars in storage costs. More than 1,400 pallets of personal protective equipment were delivered on 62 trucks to DDSP’s Mechanicsburg and New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, locations from mid-July through mid-August. Employees stored most of the equipment and shipped the first 2,400 masks to veterans’ medical facilities on August 21.


DDSP also received, processed, and shipped 1.5 million N95 masks for HHS to assist nationwide nursing homes facing mask shortages for healthcare staff. Employees received the masks on August 25 from the Strategic National Stockpile in Atlanta and worked non-stop nearly round-the-clock to ship the masks to over 3,000 nursing homes.


In an ongoing mission, DLA Distribution San Joaquin, California (DDJC), and DDSP are distributing 6 million COVID-19 rapid test kits for HHS for distribution to medical facilities and Department of Defense (DOD) customers worldwide. The first rapid test kits began arriving in October and the shipments will continue through April. Although 90 percent of the components are arriving at DDJC’s refrigerated warehouse for assembly and shipment to medical facilities, 10 percent are shipping to DDSP for assembly and shipment to DOD customers worldwide.


When the US Food and Drug Administration approved the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in December 2020, DLA Distribution began supporting the federal response by receiving and shipping the vaccine to DOD vaccination locations outside the continental US, the Navy fleet, and a limited number of locations within the continental US. Ancillary kits containing gloves, needles, syringes, alcohol wipes, sharps containers, adhesive bandages, gauze, and tape are shipping as well.

Defense Logistics Agency Distribution Yokosuka, Japan, collaborates with 7th Fleet employees to ship over 16,000 face coverings, over 186,000 protective gloves, over 1,000 protective coveralls and 600 goggles to 21 ships in the US Pacific Command area of responsibility to help control the spread of COVID-19. Photo by Walter Humko, DLA Distribution Yoksuka/Released.

As 2020 ended, DLA Distribution had successfully delivered Moderna COVID-19 vaccine kits to three US Forces Korea locations; Naval Hospital Yokosuka, Japan; Naval Base Health Clinic Bahrain; three DOD locations in Germany, two in Belgium, and several continental US locations. Vaccine deliveries allowed medical staff and other key workers to be inoculated before the end of the year. Vaccine kit shipments continue to other DOD locations.


“These mission sets demonstrate DLA Distribution’s ability to serve as a key enabler to the armed services and whole of government throughout this global crisis,” said COL Robb Meert, USA, DLA Distribution Operations Director.


The amount of items DLA Distribution processes with priority shipping, especially COVID-19 medical supplies, continues increasing daily as new requirements emerge.


By Dawn Bonsell, DLA Distribution Public Affairs Officer


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