Two months of ‘inaction’ made the US pay the price

Avatar of Nick John By Nick John Dec23,2023 #inaction #months
Two months of 'inaction' made the US pay the price 4
Two months of 'inaction' made the US pay the price 4

`Now, literally, a company will call and say: ‘The state of California outbids you,’` New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on March 31, referring to the battle for equipment.

For nearly a month, Cuomo and many officials have called on US President Donald Trump to require companies to increase production of ventilators and protective equipment under the Defense Production Act, to deal with Covid-19.

More than three months after China announced the epidemic, Trump finally accepted officials’ proposal last week, in the context of the US becoming the largest epidemic region in the world.

This situation is said to stem from the Trump administration’s lack of preparation of necessary stockpiles of medical supplies and equipment.

Medical staff move patients outside a hospital in New York City, USA on April 5.

When the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the epidemic a global health emergency on January 30, Trump still reassured people that nCoV `has been controlled very well`, and predicted that

On February 24, the White House sent Congress a request for initial funding worth $2.5 billion to respond to the pandemic.

Regardless, US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar on February 27 told Congress that `the immediate risk to the community in the US remains low`.

`We basically wasted two months,` said Kathleen Sebelius, HHS secretary under former president Barack Obama.

An HHS spokesman once said the Strategic National Stockpile has about 13 million N95 masks, which help block 95% of particles and are extremely important in protecting health care workers.

During a press conference at the White House on March 26, Trump said he had to take over an `empty shelf` from the Obama administration and `is really filling it up very quickly.`

HHS first announced plans to purchase 500 million N95 masks on March 4 and intended to distribute them over the next 18 months.

On March 13, nearly 6 weeks after WHO declared a global health emergency, Trump declared a national emergency about Covid-19.

The government sent tens of thousands of masks, gloves and gowns from the national stockpile to Washington state, the first place hard hit by the epidemic.

According to federal contract records, HHS on March 12 placed an order for N95 masks worth $4.8 million from 3M, the largest US manufacturer.

HHS does not disclose how many N95 masks they own, but the White House said on March 31 that more than 11.6 million have been distributed to localities from the national stockpile, accounting for about 90% of the quantity.

Dr. Robert Kadlec, assistant secretary of HHS, said last month that the US needs about 3.5 billion N95 masks to overcome the pandemic, while the national supply chain only has about 1% of that number.

`There is never enough money to stock up on everything we need. Commercial products like masks are often always available when an incident occurs,` Burel explained.

However, this pandemic is not like that.

In addition to masks, experts worry that the US will soon run out of ventilators, equipment that can cost $12,000 each.

Royal Philips, the Dutch group that owns Respironics, the company that signed the ventilator contract with HHS, said it plans to be able to produce 2,000 ventilators a week for the US by the end of May, but the delivery of the first shipment is expected.

President Trump on March 27 announced that the government would ensure the supply of an additional 100,000 ventilators within 100 days.

However, Trump and his allies urged local governments, as well as hospitals, to buy their own masks and ventilators, adding that requesting supplies from the already dwindling national stockpile should be the option.

`The states do not have as much purchasing power as the government. They also cannot afford to run deficits like the federation, or possess equivalent logistical capacity,` former minister Sebelius explained.

Governor Cuomo on April 3 predicted that New York, which has recorded more than 122,000 nCoV infections and more than 4,000 deaths, will run out of ventilators within the next few days.

Meanwhile, federal health officials are lowering equipment standards.

Last month, the CDC advised healthcare workers to use self-made masks or bandanas if appropriate protective gear is unavailable.

`Experts highly recommend using scarves. In a way, I think scarves are better. It’s really better,` the US President said on April 2.

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