Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, speaks at a Monday news conference in Augusta. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty | AP

As of 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 17, 23 Maine residents have been confirmed positive and nine others are presumed positive for the coronavirus, according to the state. Click here for the latest coronavirus news, which the BDN has made free for the public. You can support this mission by purchasing a digital subscription.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention called on the federal government to release medical equipment on Tuesday, citing the scarcity of important tools as Maine and other states confront outbreaks of the new coronavirus.

“We do ask that the federal government make further distributions from their national stockpile to ensure that we have an uninterrupted supply chain,” Nirav Shah told reporters on Tuesday. “We know that’s a challenge in Maine as it is across the country, and we do call on the federal government to assist states more.”

Shah said the state had made requests to the federal government for additional protective equipment early on, and that the agency hoped to be receiving that shipment soon.

The Maine CDC director’s remarks came a day after the New York Times reported that President Donald Trump told governors that with regard to ventilators and respirators, while the federal government will be “backing you,” they should “try getting equipment yourselves.”

Shah said the state had pursued “every single avenue” to obtain necessary equipment, including the federal government and private suppliers, in order to be as prepared as possible for the outbreak. Maine has 32 confirmed or presumptive cases of coronavirus as of Tuesday.

Shah called reports over the past few days that the federal reserve of medical equipment might not be sufficient “very disappointing,” but said that, regardless, the federal government “has in its ability to make distributions from the strategic federal stockpile.”

“That supply may be sufficient; it may not be,” Shah said. “But certainly, job number one right now should be making distributions from the federal government to states so that we can at least deal with the problem in front of us.”