Politico reported this morning that even as Trump boasts about reopening the country, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials privately fretted about the country’s ability to safely sustain business as usual once social distancing protocols are relaxed. One official said:
“If, at the end of stay-at-home orders, you were to lift everything and go back to normal business, and not have any community mitigation, you would expect to see in the second week in May we begin to increase again in ventilator uses... Which means cases increase, and by early June, we surpass the number of ventilators we currently have.”
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Trump Boasts About Reopening As State Officials Struggle
Internal emails obtained through Accountable.US’s 50 State Open Records Project further affirm these officials’ claims, showing that state officials struggled to prepare for the COVID-19 crisis without proper support from the Trump administration government:
- The Trump administration gave Georgia the runaround on necessary medical equipment, failing to deliver more than 20 of the state’s requested 250 ventilators — while also fulfilling multiple requests for a total of 5,000 ventilators to Florida.
- On April 11, 2020 Oregon’s Health Authority discovered that it would only be getting four of 5,000 requested test kits from HHS. The state then tried to follow up with the federal government, asking how they could get closer to the requested number of tests. HHS responded 5 days later on April 16, stating that the ability to acquire more [test kits] was “very difficult and competitive…”
- On April 15, 2020, the Oregon Health Authority received an email from HHS’ Preparedness and Response Office regarding COVID-19 testing supplies, stating “we are now stealing from Peter to pay Paul…. and this is not sustainable.”
- On April 17, 2020, the director of the Idaho Office of Emergency Management told the Idaho's Veterans Division administrator that he couldn’t provide details on PPE for veterans’ homes because “the Strategic National Stockpile has been distributed, FEMA/HHS will only provide urgent needs when a facility get to a 3 day supply. Our goal is have a six week supply to bridge the gap until the PPE supply chain returns to normal.”
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