Donald Trump has refused to use the federal government to centralize the supply chain for states and hospitals desperate to access medical supplies they need to combat the coronavirus. "We're not a shipping clerk," Trump told governors last month. Instead, Trump told them to fend for themselves, and not much has changed since then. Last week, the guy running point on medical supply logistics for FEMA reinforced Trump’s original position. "I'm not here to disrupt a supply chain," Rear Adm. John Polowczyk told White House reporters, defending the fact that the federal government was pushing medical products out into the private sector to be bid upon rather than sending them directly to the states and hospitals that urgently needed them.
If that wasn’t infuriating enough, we now know that the federal government is actually stealing critical supplies from the very hospitals Trump abandoned. The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that federal government has been "quietly seizing orders, leaving medical providers across the country in the dark about where the material is going and how they can get what they need to deal with the coronavirus pandemic."
The Times had spoken to hospitals and clinics in seven different states that described similar experiences. Meanwhile, FEMA isn't telling anyone what the agency is stealing, why, or where federal officials are sending the materials they have seized.
“We can’t get any answers,” said one California hospital official, who declined to be quoted on the record for fear of retribution from the White House.
The materials include thermometers, testing kits, and protective equipment like masks.
An official with a major medical network of 10 hospitals covering Washington, Oregon, and Alaska said the testing supplies the system had ordered were among the materials stolen by FEMA. “It’s incredibly frustrating,” Richard DeCarlo, chief operating officer of PeaceHealth, told the Times. “We had put wheels in motion with testing and protective equipment to allow us to secure and protect our staff and our patients,” he said. “When testing went off the table, we had to come up with a whole new plan.”
This is just nuts. The federal government kneecapped states and hospitals on the front end by refusing to centralize the supply chain and now the federal government is kneecapping hospitals on then back end as they do their best to make up for Trump's piss-poor handling of the federal response.
It is disgusting. It is absolutely putting people at unnecessary risk and undoubtedly costing precious lives. On top of it all, FEMA refuses to provide any explanation whatsoever for why it is stealing these life-saving materials and where it is sending them. Trump is either playing political games with where he's sending the resources or someone is profiting off it or both. And yes, that’s a damning accusation. If it’s not true, the onus is on Trump to prove it.