As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky calls on US officials “to do more” to help his country, governors around the US are mobilizing to bolster shipments of humanitarian aid and other supplies, including at least one state sending personal protective and medical equipment it had been scrambling to acquire at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

At a state disaster logistics warehouse in Solano County this week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom helped pack up a field hospital kit designed for use during the pandemic to treat 50 patients over three days. The self-contained package of hospital beds, IV-starter kits and poles, tourniquets, trauma and oxygen supplies, and automated external defibrillators fits in a 53-foot trailer that will now be deployed in Ukraine.
After loading and shrink-wrapping boxes for shipment alongside state emergency workers, the Democratic governor scrawled a message in black marker on one of the containers, promising that this would be just the first of multiple donations from his state. While some of the supplies California is offering Ukraine — like PPE and ventilators — were in critically short supply in the US just two years ago, the state now has an emergency stockpile that fills more than a million square feet of warehouse space, Newsom said.
“What a gift for us, for all of us as taxpayers, as Californians, to do this, without any impact whatsoever in terms of our own capacity to maintain readiness and keep us safe,” Newsom told reporters, describing the state as being in “an abundant place.”
California’s donation will be added to a much larger March 26 shipment — including emergency and chronic disease medications, antibiotics and backpacks filled with supplies for emergency first responders — that is being assembled by the California-based charity Direct Relief and flown via a FedEx 777 charter to Poland, with all items specifically requested by the Ukrainian Ministry of Health.
The idea for California’s medical supply donations stemmed from a recent meeting between Newsom and Consul General of Ukraine in San Francisco Dmytro Kushneruk. Officials with Direct Relief said California’s donation was the first the charity had received from a state government or municipality that had included surplus Covid-19 supplies.
Direct Relief noted that medical-grade oxygen is critically needed in Ukraine and demand is likely to grow depending on both the course of the war and the pandemic.
“We’d be more than willing to work with other states, particularly if they have supplies that match the requests that we have from Ukraine,” said Leighton Jones, Direct Relief’s director of emergency response.
Newsom and a number of other US governors and municipal agencies are also collecting bulletproof vests, helmets and other protective equipment that has been requested by Ukraine. Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican who recently signed legislation to provide nearly $645,000 in humanitarian aid to Ukraine that is being sent through Save the Children, is supporting a body armor drive coordinated by Vermont law enforcement agencies through next Wednesday.
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