The US turned down an offer for millions of N95 masks at the start of COVID-19
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The Washington Post Reports: In the early days of the pandemic, the U.S. government turned down an offer to manufacture millions of N95 masks in America
A day after the first case of COVID-19 was detected in the US, Prestige Ameritech had the ability to produce an extra 1.7 million N95 masks a week.
“We still have four like-new N95 manufacturing lines,” Bowen [owner] wrote that day in an email to top administrators in the Department of Health and Human Services. “Reactivating these machines would be very difficult and very expensive but could be achieved in a dire situation.”
But communications from the Trump administration indicated that they were not interested in the offer.
Bowen’s overture was described briefly in an 89-page whistleblower complaint filed this week by Rick Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. Bright alleges he was retaliated against by Kadlec and other officials — including being reassigned to a lesser post — because he tried to “prioritize science and safety over political expediency.” HHS has disputed his allegations.
Front line workers now lack proper PPE and are exposed to COVID-19 every single day. The shortage of masks is exacerbating the pandemic.
Within weeks, a shortage of masks was endangering health-care workers in hard-hit areas across the country, and the Trump administration was scrambling to buy more masks — sometimes placing bulk orders with third-party distributors for many times the standard price. President Trump came under pressure to use extraordinary government powers to force the private industry to ramp up production.
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