The Trump White House has erected a blockade stopping states and hospitals from getting protective equipment doctors need to combat the coronavirus pandemic, New York Magazine reported Sunday. It’s a horrific new low for the Trump administration.
As noted by NYMag, “in addition to abandoning the states to their own devices in a time of national emergency, the federal government has effectively erected a blockade — like that which the Union used to choke off the supply chains of the Confederacy during the Civil War — to prevent delivery of critical medical equipment to states desperately in need.”
According to the report, 3 million masks ordered by the state of Massachusetts were recently seized by the federal government. The news outlet also cited a report by the Chicago Sun-Times revealing that the governor of Illinois, J.B. Pritzker, was arranging secret chartered flights of supplies as a way of outmaneuvering federal interference.
From the report:
“The governor has clearly outlined the challenges this administration has faced as we’ve worked around the clock to purchase PPE for our health-care workers and first responders,” a spokesperson for the governor told the paper. “The supply chain has been likened to the Wild West, and once you have purchased supplies, ensuring they get to the state is another Herculean feat,” he continued. “These flights are carrying millions of masks and gloves our workers need. They’re scheduled to land in Illinois in the coming weeks and the state is working to ensure these much-needed supplies are protected and ready for distribution around the state.” A source “knowledgeable about the flights” told the paper that the governor didn’t want to be more open about the shipments “because we’ve heard reports of Trump trying to take PPE in China and when it gets to the United States.”
On top of that outrage, the Feds are bidding against states who are trying to buy their own supplies, and refusing to interfere in those auctions between states, which have driven prices up by ten times or more. But while you might think that was as bad as federal management of this crisis could be, it is not. This new outrage is deeper: Even those states that are trying to manage their own resources, buying equipment themselves with incredibly scarce resources to aid in a time of crisis, are being stopped, and those resources seized on the way to delivery.
The federal government is choking supply chains to states like it chokes supply chains to Iran and North Korea. These blockades aren’t as complete as those surrounding sanctioned regimes, of course, and some amount of the disruption may be honest confusion in a time of crisis. But the disruption is being brought about by federal interference, and unlike the kind of disruptions you’d want to engineer against antagonistic states, the purpose seems completely unclear — indeed the policy is inexplicable and indefensible.
We don’t know where these supplies are going. We don’t know on what grounds they are being seized, or threatened with seizure. What business do the DHS and FEMA have with ventilators and PPE purchases by governors and local hospitals? “This is like a story out of the last days of the Soviet Union,” David Frum wrote on Twitter, of the NEJM letter. “This is what it means to be a failed state,” wrote the essayist Umair Haque, echoing him. In the absence of an explanation, it is hard to come to any conclusion other than that this is simply mafia government, exerting control for the sake of control, not in spite of but because of the crisis-led demand, and squeezing the American people, as they die in hospital beds and attend — with inadequate protection — to the sick and scared.
Yes. Just when you thought the Trump administration has hit a moral bottom, it finds a new way to shock and horrify.
You can read more here.