The Trump administration has abdicated the government's usual and expected role as supplier to the states in a nationwide emergency. The majority of states have been abandoned and told to get their own supplies, and so they find themselves in fierce bidding wars with each other and the federal government for limited supplies and equipment.
One state (anonymous, for obvious reasons) is so worried about the Trump administration stealing several million masks due to be delivered next week, it is considering sending local police or the National Guard to the airport to meet the two chartered FedEx planes.
The Washington Post reports, after reviewing procurement records and interviewing 48 state, local, and federal officials and business leaders, that FEMA is interfering in many states' attempts to get supplies, either by redirecting them to other states or confiscating them for their own distribution system.
Four shipments of equipment heading to Kentucky hospitals were redirected or taken over by FEMA, according to a hospital CEO who wrote to Yarmuth [Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.)] and other lawmakers earlier this month. The first order was en route from Texas when it was diverted to St. Louis at the demand of FEMA, Garren Colvin, the CEO, wrote in an email reviewed by The Washington Post. In another case, a deposit had already been made for supplies from China when, Colvin wrote, "we were told that the order was canceled at the request of the US Government."This new "war between the states" is the natural result of Trump's (and capitalism's) love of the free market and Trump's adamant refusal to use the power granted to him under the Defense Production Act. Because turning a profit is Trump's ultimate goal as a businessman (though he's worthless at it, having gone bankrupt with a casino!), he restricted production of ventilators to only 11 companies.
Minnesota officials leaned on a local company's global connections to airlift a cache of N95 masks from a Chinese factory back to the state for delivery this week.That obviously leaves Democratic governors at a severe disadvantage, which is how Trump likes it. They don't show him the proper respect, so let them deal with a few hundred more deaths.
Washington state purchased 750,000 cotton swabs for coronavirus tests, taking a risk because the product located by officials has not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The state is also betting that a Seattle-based outdoor gear company, known for its backpacks and parkas, can reconfigure its operations to produce N95 respirators.
And California, acting as a "nation state" in the words of the governor, began buying 200 million masks per month to shore up supplies in that state and, potentially, across the country. ...
Soaring prices have left states at times to pay up to 10 times the normal prices for certain goods, according to officials from multiple states, eating away at cash reserves and laying the foundation for a fiscal crunch that several governors believe will require federal bailouts. Windfalls, so far, go largely to foreign companies that make the equipment along with third-party brokers that often help connect states with manufacturers and then get a cut, according to state officials and business people.
Worried about losing potential deals, state governments have tossed aside long-standing purchasing rules about how to spend taxpayer money, offering funds up front for equipment before it disappears. Governors and top aides are spending hours on the phone, hunting for friends, relatives of aides or other personal connections that might give them an edge. ...
The frenzy invites the potential for fraud, according to several aides to governors, with officials in New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Washington state all saying they have been inundated with pitches from likely scam artists.
Help from the federal government is inconsistent, with some governors ... finding an in with Jared Kushner, a White House adviser and the president's son-in-law, and some appealing directly to President Trump.
In Colorado, Democratic governor Jared Polis requested 10,000 ventilators. When that request went nowhere, he ordered 500 ventilators from a private manufacturer, only to learn that FEMA had cancelled the order. Polis then discovered from a Trump tweet that Colorado would be getting 100 ventilators.
Trump thanked Colorado's Republican senator, Cory Gardner, for requesting the equipment (in a private conversation, though Trump did not mention that). If you think Trump ignored Polis and thanked Gardner because Gardner is facing a difficult reelection campaign this year, then you are a nutty conspiracy theorist.
Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette was alarmed: "Do you have to have some sort of in with the president to get breathing devices?"
The White House's only comment was a stark lie: "We're giving states what they need when they need it."
Meanwhile, Maine officials are busy asking veterinarians for ventilators. Two in Portland will have to be adjusted for human use. The state of Washington got lucky when someone in the governor's office had a cousin with a connection to a factory in China.
In Illinois, Ellen Andres, an assistant comptroller, drove with a $3.2 million check to a McDonald's parking lot for an handoff to make a tight bank deadline. "My thought was we're going to lose this. We're going to lose 1.5 million masks." And Andres also knows: "Anytime we get something, another state is not getting it. We're all trying to get the same supply."
A N95 mask typically costs $1.75 a piece. Some states feel lucky to be paying $5 per mark, since prices can go as high as $10-$12 per mask. In Michigan, other masks that used to cost 50 cents apiece now cost as much as $13 each. Prices for medical gowns have increased five fold. A ventilator can now cost close to six figures.
But fear not ... Dolt45 is after the real evil doers ... the ones reporting all these fuckups:
He's extremely needy.More than 21,000 Americans have now died from a pandemic the government was unprepared for —the most deaths of any country. The president is “working hard to expose” critical media coverage. https://t.co/WGlcA5LKOZ— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 13, 2020
This is like the third months old thing he’s retweeted praising him within an hour lol— Live, Laugh, Love To See It (@BigBicNick) April 13, 2020