Thursday, April 9, 2020

After denying that the federal government has responsibility for coronavirus supplies, it seizes supplies ordered by states and hospitals

This is a serious WTF moment. States are ordering supplies only to see those supplied seized by, apparently, FEMA. Read this excerpt from the morning email by Heather Cox Richardson.

If those older stories [about Trump firing an inspector general] were straightforward, more confusing was a story from the L.A. Times, which yesterday pulled together a number of reports that have been circulating about the seizure of masks and PPEs coming into the country. It reported that, after telling states to get their own medical supplies to fight the coronavirus, the federal government is intercepting and seizing those supplies from states and hospitals that had ordered them. Reporter Noam N. Levey talked to officials from seven states, who said their materials had been taken and they’ve had no information about when or if they will ever get them back.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is not publicly reporting this activity, although a FEMA representative said the agency was working with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense to identify “needed supplies from vendors” and distribute them fairly. But, Levey notes, FEMA refused to supply any more information about how it determined which supplies should be seized or where they are going. One state official told Levey: “Are they stockpiling this stuff? Are they distributing it? We don’t know…. And are we going to ever get any of it back if we need supplies? It would be nice to know these things.”

The original reporting was from the LA Times: Hospitals say feds are seizing masks and other coronavirus supplies without a word. For example:

Hospital and health officials describe an opaque process in which federal officials sweep in without warning to expropriate supplies.

Jose Camacho, who heads the Texas Assn. of Community Health Centers, said his group was trying to purchase a small order of just 20,000 masks when his supplier reported that the order had been taken.

Camacho was flabbergasted. Several of his member clinics — which as primary care centers are supposed to alleviate pressure on overburdened hospitals — are struggling to stay open amid woeful shortages of protective equipment.

“Everyone says you are supposed to be on your own,” Camacho said, noting Trump’s repeated admonition that states and local health systems cannot rely on Washington for supplies. “Then to have this happen, you just sit there wondering what else you can do. You can’t fight the federal government.”

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