Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Ongoing Tower Work Impacting KUNI 90.9 FM

The Strategic National Stockpile: What Is It, Where Is It And What Should It Be Used For?

N95 masks wait for deployment at the Anne Arundel County Fire Department supply depot on April 9, 2020 in Glen Burnie, Maryland. (Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images)
N95 masks wait for deployment at the Anne Arundel County Fire Department supply depot on April 9, 2020 in Glen Burnie, Maryland. (Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images)

This broadcast originally aired on April 16, 2020.

A look at the Strategic National Stockpile. Where is it? What is it? What should it be used for? We’ll talk with the man who was once in charge of the whole thing.


Greg Burel, former director of the Strategic National Stockpile. ( @gburel)

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst. ( @JackBeattyNPR)

From The Reading List

Washington Post: “ Inside the secret U.S. stockpile meant to save us all in a bioterror attack” — “From the outside, it looks like an ordinary commercial warehouse, only much bigger, about the size of two super Walmarts. Inside it’s dark except when motion sensors are triggered. When the lights come on, hundreds of thousands of shrink-wrapped boxes of medicines emerge from the gloom, stacked on shelves nearly five stories high.”

TIME: “ Coronavirus Is Putting the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile to the Test. Here’s the Surprising Story Behind the Stash” — “Amid questions about whether the U.S. has enough medical supplies to confront the spread of COVID-19, the Strategic National Stockpile — the nation’s emergency pharmacy and medical supplies stash — is further stocking up, recently ordering 500 million N95 respirator masks.”

ASPR Blog: “ Twenty Years of Stockpiling Critical Medical Products and Training Professionals to Respond to 21st Century Health Threats” — “Twenty years ago, Congress established the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), originally named the National Pharmaceutical Stockpile, with a $51 million appropriation and a handful of staff quietly housed in CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health. Today, the SNS is part of the HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and holds a $7 billion inventory as well as vast experience in preparing for and responding to a variety of public health threats.”

CBS News: “ What you need to know about the Strategic National Stockpile” — “The coronavirus pandemic has left states from coast-to-coast scrambling to secure ventilators for patients and masks, gloves and gowns for frontline workers as they confront a surge of patients battling COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.”

The Denver Channel: “ Former national stockpile director: Supply never intended to handle crisis like COVID-19 pandemic” — “A shortage of N95 masks, ventilators and other necessary medical supplies has caused many to ask why the federal government’s reserves could not meet the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Washington Post: “ The Trump administration just changed its description of the national stockpile to jibe with Jared Kushner’s controversial claim” — “The Trump administration on Friday changed its description of the Strategic National Stockpile on a government website after journalists noted that it contradicted a claim Jared Kushner had made about the program.”

This article was originally published on

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit