By Statement of Dr. Michael Carome, Director, Public Citizen’s Health Research Group
Note: According to The Washington Post, the federal government’s Strategic National Stockpile is nearly depleted of respirator masks, gloves and other medical supplies desperately needed by hospitals across the U.S. to protect doctors, nurses and other health care professionals who are caring for coronavirus patients.
It must have been obvious to Trump officials several weeks ago that the Strategic National Stockpile’s supply of critically needed medical supplies would be exhausted by now. With that knowledge, any competent administration would have immediately invoked the Defense Production Act and ordered factories across the nation to begin mass production of these medical supplies for distribution by the federal government.
Apparently driven by ideological opposition to government intervention in the private sector, the Trump administration instead frittered away valuable time, wishfully believing that the president could cajole companies to voluntarily act.
As a result, with the number of coronavirus cases and deaths accelerating and hospitals around the U.S. on the verge of a catastrophic collapse, states are engaged in a life-and-death bidding war for medical supplies, and tens of thousands of American will die.
Now, belatedly, the administration must aggressively use the Defense Production Act to avert even worse outcomes. Businesses around the country may be happy to produce the supplies needed to address the pandemic, but they can’t organize and manage this process. Only the federal government can do that.