PENDLETON, S.C. (WSPA) – Sen. Lindsey Graham discussed the need to strengthen the U.S. medical supply chain and become less dependent on imports, particularly from China, while at Milliken & Company Friday morning.
Graham said he will introduce legislation in the Senate aiming to increase manufacturing in the United States through the creation of “domestic procurement requirements for the nation’s medical stockpile.”
“Coronavirus has been a painful wakeup call that we are too reliant on nations like China for critical medical supplies. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that South Carolina leads the way when it comes to getting the medical supply chain out of China,” said Graham.
Graham believes Milliken & Company could be at the forefront of making this happen.
“I’m very proud to say, over the last four weeks, we have begun the production of medical fabrics,” said Chad McAllister, Division President for Textiles at Milliken & Company.
The textile giant is now making gowns for medical workers. Graham said it’s an effort to bring the medical supply chain back to the United States.
“The essential protection equipment for the front-line health worker is no longer made in America. The Chinese is supplying the world with junk. They’ve been hoarding protective equipment and selling it in a gouging manner,” Graham said.
He’s working to change the game now.
“I will be introducing legislation next week to include protective equipment for front-line health workers…our doctors, our nurses, our EMT’s under the Berry Amendment,” Graham said.
The law requires the Department of Defense to purchase fabrics from American companies for the military. Graham wants to include this for healthcare needs.
Nearly 75 Milliken employees at the Pendleton plant, will have a hand in crafting a well needed item for millions of people.
The product will also be made at eight other Milliken plants throughout Georgia, South and North Carolinas.
“These are gowns that over the next two months, we’ll make three million of. And they will end up on the backs of nurses, doctors, EMT’s, healthcare workers,” said McAllister.
“And let it be said that South Carolina will lead America when it comes to return the medical supply chain,” Graham added.
Now Senator Graham believes they will be able to eventually produce five million gowns. He also expects his legislation will be bipartisan after presented to the senate. He also said he hopes it will be a part of any future COVID-19 relief package.
Graham claimed that beyond being too dependent on Chinese imports, China was not a reliable supply chain. Graham said that on Thursday officials withdrew approval from over 60 Chinese mask manufacturers who tried to pass off defective products.