A Wednesday report by the House Oversight Committee criticizes the administration of President Donald Trump for an alleged “insufficient distribution of personal protective equipment and critical medical supplies to states” in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The subject of the oversight committee’s report is the strategic national stockiple of medical gear, which is legally designed to protect Americans in a public health emergency.
Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), who is chairwoman of the oversight committee, said in a statement that “the federal government has distributed just a fraction of the personal protective equipment and critical medical supplies that our hospitals and medical first responders urgently need.”
“Now that the national stockpile has been depleted of critical equipment, it appears that the Administration is leaving states to fend for themselves, to scour the open market for these scarce supplies, and to compete with each other and federal agencies in a chaotic, free-for-all bidding war,” she added.
The committee’s analysis found that the strategic national stockpile, which legally shall “provide for and optimize the emergency health security of the United States, including the emergency health security of children and other vulnerable populations,” is virtually gone. Per the statement:
HHS staff stated that the Trump Administration has made its final shipments of personal protective equipment to states from the Strategic National Stockpile, accounting for 90% of the stockpile’s inventory of N95 respirators, surgical and face masks, face shields, gowns, and gloves. The remaining 10% of personal protective equipment in the stockpile is reserved for federal workers and will not be distributed to states.
The oversight committee’s analysis found that the stockpile really only contained a fraction of what doctors and hospitals — and even the Trump Administration — has said is necessary to treat coronavirus patients. For instance, the assessment found that “less than 1%” (11.7 million) N95 respirators have been distributed. The Trump Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services estimated 3.5 billion masks would be necessary. The assessment also found that 7,920 ventilators from the stockpile had been distributed; a survey of mayors cited by the assessment estimated a “need of 139,000 ventilators.”
Read Law&Crime’s extended coverage of the strategic national stockpile here.
Rep. Maloney cited a series of Trump failures leading to the current situation, but implored Trump correct them. “He must take action now to address these deficiencies,” she said.
This is a developing story.
[Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.]
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