Health & Fitness

Within the chaotic, breakneck marketplace for N95 masks

The widespread belief that the Trump administration appropriated PPE in the face of opposing protests shows how far the federal government was viewed as part of the problem rather than the solution. Public health experts generally agree that the federal government has sole power to coordinate a comprehensive response to a nationwide pandemic and has typically taken the lead on national disasters over the past century. According to a detailed internal plan drawn up by the government in March when the virus took root in the United States, it identified one of the nation’s “primary tasks” as supporting the nation’s “needs for medical assistive equipment, supplies and PPE.”

However, the Trump administration appeared to be doing the opposite. On March 19, President Trump stated at a press conference: “The federal government should not be out there buying and shipping large quantities of items. You know, we’re not a shipping agent. “This led to the chaotic PSA market described by Andrew M. Cuomo, the Democratic governor of New York, as” 50 states competing against states and the federal government competing against states “which is what the Costs of masks for New York skyrocketed from 85 cents to around $ 7 each. To solve this “madness”, he called on the federal government to control all purchases in order to suppress bidding wars and target PSA more efficiently to trouble spots – like the earlier guidelines of the Bush administration, the own planning of the government and numerous citizen health experts, Mayors, governors and congressional officials proposed.

It was not just the political opposition, but also a small number of Conservatives, who called on the government to take more leadership – the private sector also advocated a direction. As of late January, representatives from six of the largest medical care companies and members of the Health Industry Distributors Association, a trade group, had raised concerns about supply chain issues. They asked senior administrative officials for guidance on making daily calls, as indicated in documents released by the House’s oversight committee. Confusing to some high-level industry leaders, however, after nearly two months, they were still trying to get administration to take straightforward action – while the supply chain was visibly broken.

An industry leader who met with the President and Vice President and asked for anonymity to avoid retaliation described the widespread frustration among private health leaders in administration. He recalled a “shocking” and “annoying” White House seat in March where Vice President Mike Pence first complained health professionals with handshakes and then tried to smooth over over an hour of criticism they had unloaded a senior HHS official by simply claiming he would solve the problems. “It was like we were in two different realities,” said the individual. “I could see that the vice president was in a bubble.”

The government’s efforts to address the PSA crisis reportedly came from a team of unpaid consultants, many in their twenties with little or no healthcare experience, put together by the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner . After distributing the backlog of the Strategic National Stockpile, the federal government focused on sourcing all possible supplies from medical distributors and the gray market and distributing them through FEMA. An analysis by The Associated Press found that rural states with less serious outbreaks received more PPE per confirmed case than states with much more dangerous outbreaks. This led to allegations of political preference in a life or death situation – although the government has strongly denied this.

Kushner’s team meanwhile also launched Project Airbridge, a program that expedited the shipment of PPE from Asia to America by paying to be flown, not shipped. In the first four months of the outbreak, Project Airbridge would help bring in 5.3 million respirators and 122 million medical masks. While these numbers are large, they represent only a tiny fraction of the 3.5 billion respirators that Kadlec said was needed. In June, the Airbridge project would be handled without fanfare.

At the start of the pandemic, at least from Baystate Health’s point of view, the government managed to induce a feeding frenzy. In this kind of chaos, everyday citizens had little chance, so Keroack turned to Representative Neal. At first this didn’t seem to do anything, and Artenstein left the federal agents and the masks and drove home. But that evening, when he was back in the hospital, he learned that the shipment had been loaded onto the trucks. Representative Neal had managed to call the Department of Homeland Security and delivered a strongly worded message to release the respirators. As Salls watched the trucks on their long drive north, she was nervous every time they stopped for gas. The masks finally arrived at the guarded warehouse well after midnight, and pictures of them were frivolously shared. Over the next few days, the remaining three-quarters of the order arrived in pieces, with Representative Neal’s chief of staff, Tranghese, taking each portion through customs. But Baystate’s ordeal was far from over.

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