US strategic stockpile ran out of medical equipment

200 ventilators were moved to New York by the federal government. Photo: AP.
200 ventilators were moved to New York by the federal government. Photo: AP.

The National Strategic Reserve of the United States has nearly all medical equipment such as N95 masks, goggles, protective gear that anti-epidemic physicians are in great need.

The US Department of Health and Human Services told the Associated Press on April 8 that the stockpile was distributing the final protective equipment.

The ministry’s statement confirmed documents released by the House of Supervisors and Reform Commission, showing that 90% of protective equipment in the warehouse was distributed to localities.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services said the remaining 10% will be withheld to support federal responses.

The Supervisory Commission criticized President Trump for allowing the states to compete on their own to buy medical devices, causing prices to soar.

He was also criticized because the federal government did not intervene earlier, and did not use the powers of the National Defense Production Law to require companies to support the production and distribution of essential equipment.

Many physicians across the country had to go online to talk about equipment shortages. They take selfies of homemade masks and protective vests.

President Trump again blamed the states for not being prepared enough, and said they should only rely on federal reserves as a last resort.

The contracts for procurement of medical equipment that the AP news agency found were not until mid-March when the federal government began ordering large numbers of N95 masks, ventilators and protective gear – more than two. months after the outbreak of disease in Wuhan.

By then, hospitals in many states had to admit thousands of patients with Covid-19, without adequate protective gear for physicians. This is the latest evidence of the embarrassment and lack of preparation of the Trump administration.

In the first two months since the corona virus threat, Mr. Trump often underestimated the risk, saying it was a media and Democratic deception, even unfounded claims that the number of infections in the United States will automatically drop to 0.

The repository was established in 1999 to prevent supply chain disruptions due to the predicted Y2K computer error. The stockpile was expanded after 9/11 terrorism to be ready for chemical, biological, radioactive, and nuclear attacks, according to AP.

Congress provided extra funding in 2006 to respond to a possible pandemic, but a large number of equipment was used in the H1N1 flu epidemic three years later.

At the beginning of the Covid-19 epidemic, the federal reserve had about 13 million N95 masks, only a fraction of the amount needed by hospitals. Doctors should wear a new mask for every new patient, but they’re using one for days.