Amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, one county has reported that they received a shipment of expired, dry-rotted personal protective equipment from the federal government. If this one locale reported the failure, how many other similar failures have gone unreported? Montgomery County, Alabama made the revelation. The Associated Press reports that local emergency manager Christi Thornton “said the shipment of 5,880 procedure masks received last week were unusable because of dry rot.” The expiration date, the report adds, was 2010 — a decade ago. Personal protective equipment like the masks have proven crucial for healthcare workers in the ongoing fight against the highly contagious Coronavirus.
Montgomery County authorities have apparently already received a shipment of masks replacing their faulty mask delivery. Their state was, until recently, one of the last to not issue a broad stay-at-home order, although the state’s Republican Governor Kay Ivey had already closed non-essential businesses, beaches, on-site restaurant dining, and schools. Still, a statewide stay-at-home order could increase the number of people sheltering in place, which could help stem the community spread of the virus — and she’s now issued one.
The state’s Democratic Senator Doug Jones said:
‘I would like to see one because it sends a strong message to the people of Alabama about how significant it is to use the social distancing, to use whatever means necessary to stop the spread of this virus.’
Helping stem the spread of the virus could help decrease the amount of personal protective equipment and other supplies that are needed in the first place.
Meanwhile, issues with the Strategic National Stockpile of medical supplies remain. The U.S., for example, has been struggling to secure an appropriate number of ventilators; on Friday, Mayor Bill de Blasio of the particularly hard-hit New York City said that his city’s supply of the devices might only last a few more days. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently told Congress that it had fewer than 10,000 ventilators on hand in the stockpile — and some of those reportedly weren’t even functional, because the Trump administration allowed a contract with a company to maintain the devices to expire.
At a recent press conference, Trump son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner derided the idea that states should approach the national stockpile of medical supplies for assistance at all. The problem though is — what on earth else is the stockpile supposed to be used for if not to help states in time of crisis?
The problem is — Trump himself has backed up Kushner’s ludicrous argument. He tweeted:
‘Massive amounts of medical supplies, even hospitals and medical centers, are being delivered directly to states and hospitals by the Federal Government. Some have insatiable appetites & are never satisfied (politics?). Remember, we are a backup for them. The complainers should have been stocked up and ready long before this crisis hit.’
….have been stocked up and ready long before this crisis hit. Other states are thrilled with the job we have done. Sending many Ventilators today, with thousands being built. 51 large cargo planes coming in with medical supplies. Prefer sending directly to hospitals.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 2, 2020
Trump is aware that he’s the president right? It’s his job to — wait for it — lead emergency management! What does he think he’s supposed to be doing in office? What do he and Kushner think that the national stockpile is supposed to be used for? Sending rotten masks to counties?