President Donald Trump has consistently ignored public health guidelines amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed the lives of over 110,000 Americans and sickened almost two million people in the U.S. On Friday, Trump visited a factory in Maine run by Puritan Medical Products, which was making swabs on site that are crucial for Coronavirus testing — but Trump yet again refused to wear a face mask during his visit, and concurrently, the company says that they’ll be discarding the supplies that were made while the president was on the factory floor.
Although a spokesperson did not specifically spell out the reason for the supplies getting thrown out that were made during the president’s visit, the problem seems to be contamination. Puritan marketing manager Virginia Templet explained to USA Today:
‘The running of the factory machines is very limited today and will only occur when the president is touring the facility floor. Swabs produced during that time will be discarded.’
Note that besides the swabs produced during Trump’s tour getting thrown out, the machines were apparently only run for a limited time throughout the entire day in apparent preparation for the president’s visit.
It’s unclear exactly how big off a production loss that Trump’s visit sparked, but the factory has been making the crucial swabs that are used in Coronavirus tests. These items have been in sometimes desperately short supply around the country as public health authorities have worked to increase the number of tests being done in order to allow them to more closely track and curtail the spread of the Coronavirus.
USA Today notes that the Portland Press Herald reported just last month that “[nearly] a third of Maine nursing homes reported last month they had no nasal swabs to collect specimens,” noting that “[nearly] 61% of those that responded to a Maine Medical Directors Association survey said they had seven or fewer at their disposal.” Nursing home populations have been one of the hardest hit groups in the country amidst the pandemic, so even a temporary drawback in the production of needed medical supplies could mean only more problems for those trying to get the supplies.
USA Today notes:
‘During a briefing in April, Trump held up a medical swab alongside a Q-Tip that he pulled from his jacket pocket. Trump said swabs and chemical reagents needed for tests were “so easy to get.” But in a tacit acknowledgment of the urgency of producing more, he also announced that he would activate the Defense Production Act.’
Puritan received millions of dollars in government support amidst the rush to secure the needed Coronavirus testing supplies, and they’re apparently one of only two companies in the U.S. that make the swabs that are used for the tests in the first place.
Trump has consistently refused to take many of the Coronavirus response concerns seriously. Even now, as of early Saturday afternoon, after weeks of the president touting the supposedly great testing capacity in the United States, the country is 31st in the world in terms of tests done per one million inhabitants. Countries like Spain, the United Kingdom, and Italy have still all done more tests per million residents.