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Inside the Chaotic and Gray Cuthroat Market for N95 Masks

The Trump administration, however, appeared to do the opposite. On March 19, President Trump said at a news briefing: “The federal government is not supposed to buy large quantities of items and then ship them. You know, we are not committed to shipping. This is what resulted in the chaotic PPE market, described by Andrew M. Cuomo, the Democratic Governor of New York, as “50 states competing with states and the federal government competing with states,” which, according to him, has driven up the cost. masks for New York for 85 cents at about $ 7 each. To solve this “madness” he called on the federal government to step in and take control of all purchases in order to suppress bidding wars and more effectively direct PPE to hot spots – like previous guidelines. of the Bush administration, the administration’s own planning, and many audiences – health experts, mayors, governors and congressional officials have suggested.

It’s not just the political opposition, along with a small number of Conservatives, that have called on the administration to show more leadership – the private sector is also arguing for leadership. As of the end of January, representatives from six of the largest medical supply companies and members of the Health Industry Distributors Association, a trade group, had raised concerns about the problems of the Supply Chain. They sought advice from senior administration officials on what became daily appeals, according to documents released by the House oversight committee. However, disconcertingly for some top industry leaders, after nearly two months they were still trying to convince the administration to take direct action – while clearly being fractured.

An industry leader, who met with the president and vice-president and requested anonymity to avoid retaliation, described widespread frustration among private health sector leaders in the administration . He recalled a “shocking” and “infuriating” session at the White House in March, in which Vice President Mike Pence began by deconfiguring medical professionals with handshakes, then attempted to smooth out over an hour of criticism they had unloaded on a senior HHS official by simply saying the issues would be resolved. “It was as if we were in two different realities,” said the individual. “I could see the vice president was in a bubble.”

The administration’s attempts to deal with the PPE crisis are said to have come from a team of unpaid consultants, many in their twenties with little to no healthcare experience, assembled by son-in-law Jared Kushner Of the president. After distributing the residues from the National Strategic Reserve, the federal government focused on sourcing all the supplies it could from corporate and gray market medical distributors, distributing them through FEMA. An Associated Press analysis suggested that rural states with less severe outbreaks were assigned more PPE per confirmed case than states with much more dangerous outbreaks. This raised accusations of political favoritism in a life and death situation – although the administration has firmly denied it.

Meanwhile, Kushner’s team was also starting Project Airbridge, a program that accelerated the delivery of PPE from Asia to America by paying for it to be stolen rather than transported. In the first four months of the outbreak, the Airbridge project would help deliver 5.3 million respirators and 122 million medical masks. These numbers, while significant, represent only a tiny fraction of the 3.5 billion respirators Kadlec said were needed. In June, the Airbridge project would be shut down without fanfare.

At the start of the pandemic, at least from Baystate Health’s perspective, what the administration’s response managed to create was a binge eating. In this kind of chaos, ordinary citizens were unlucky, so Keroack contacted Representative Neal. At first it seemed to come to naught, and Artenstein left the federal agents and the masks and went home. But that evening, when he returned to the hospital, he learned that the cargo had been loaded onto the trucks. Representative Neal had successfully called the Department of Homeland Security and delivered a strongly worded message to release the ventilators. Still, as Salls watched the trucks on their long drive north, she was nervous whenever they pulled up to gas. The masks finally hit the guarded warehouse long after midnight, and photos of them were stunned to be shared. Over the next few days, the remaining three-quarters of the order arrived in pieces, with Representative Neal’s chief of staff, Tranghese, bringing each portion through customs. But the Baystate test was far from over.

A lot in health The healthcare industry has encouraged the president to use the Defense Production Act, which allows him to exercise control over domestic manufacturing in the event of a national emergency. But for weeks during the initial phase of the pandemic, the administration resisted invoking the DPA, and eventually, at the end of March, began to make limited use of the law, ordering companies like 3M, the remaining largest US producer of N95, to increase production of respirators in the United States. (The company had already taken many steps to ramp up production early in the pandemic that the administration would mandate later.) It would never take a lead role in distributing PPE nationwide, instead of direct the supply mainly to the hot spots and leave the market. work on the rest.

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