Monday, March 30, 2020

Odious Or Amateurish

The first known case in the USA of COVID-19 came on January 21, 2020 and on February 7 World Health Organization Director

General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said demand for personal protective equipment, or PPE as it is called, is 100 times higher than normal and prices have skyrocketed to 20 times usual rates.

Tedros said “widespread, inappropriate use of PPE outside of patient care” is the cause, and he urged the public as well as all parties in the supply chain to adjust their practices to ensure fair and rational use of supplies.

“There is limited stock of PPE, and we need to make sure we get it to the people who need it most, in the places that need it most,” the WHO leader said.

Tedros spoke Friday about the issue with what is known as the “pandemic supply chain network” — manufacturers, distributors and logistics providers. Some companies, he said, have taken the decision to only supply masks to medical professionals.

And so it was that on that same day we learned

This week the State Department has facilitated the transportation of nearly 17.8 tons of donated medical supplies to the Chinese people, including masks, gowns, gauze, respirators, and other vital materials.  These donations are a testament to the generosity of the American people.

Today, the United States government is announcing it is prepared to spend up to $100 million in existing funds to assist China and other impacted countries, both directly and through multilateral organizations, to contain and combat the novel coronavirus.  This commitment – along with the hundreds of millions generously donated by the American private sector – demonstrates strong U.S. leadership in response to the outbreak.

The PPE was sent to the nation which "prior to the coronavirus outbreak "made half the world’s face masks. When the outbreak took off there, China started to use its supply and hoard what remained." 

However, the Trump Administration wasn't alone in being played for suckers. An Australian news agency has reported

As the coronavirus took hold in Wuhan earlier this year, staff from the Chinese government-backed global property giant Greenland Group were instructed to put their normal work on hold and source bulk supplies of essential medical items to ship back to China.

A whistleblower from the company has told the Herald it was a worldwide Greenland effort - and the Sydney office was no different, sourcing bulk supplies of surgical masks, thermometers, antibacterial wipes, hand sanitisers, gloves and Panadol for shipping....

At this time China was battling the COVID-19 epidemic. As of February 14 Australia had only 15 known cases. It now has more than 2,300.

According to a company newsletter, the Greenland Group sourced 3 million protective masks, 700,000 hazmat suits and 500,000 pairs of protective gloves from "Australia, Canada, Turkey and other countries."

The "Make America Great" and "America First" Trump Administration specializes in being played for a sucker. But that didn't prevent the President from claiming on March 18 that the federal government "is not a shipping clerk." It has been a shipping clerk for Florida, which, as the largest swing state, is the most important state in the nation every fourth November. However, for the others

“Allowing the free market to determine availability and pricing is not the way we should be dealing with this national crisis at this time,” Virginia’s Gov. Ralph Northam said.

“It is a challenge,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said. “The federal government says ‘States, you need to go find your supply chain,’ and then the federal government ends up buying from that supply chain.”

Equipment is hard to find on the open market, health officials say, because individuals and communities across the globe are buying out what exists. And prices are rising in the private market for the same reason: a number of actors — individuals, hospitals, states, the federal government, and other countries — are competing for the same limited resources.

This paradigm favors wealthier states, those most willing to divert financial resources toward the pandemic (regardless of potential political fallout), or those able to leverage existing relationships with a president who often uses personal preference to determine national policy. As the crisis deepens, all states — regardless of whether they have these advantages — are finding needed equipment in dangerously short supply.

Some governments swing from efficient to inefficient, effective to ineffective.  But while the body count piles up because of this President, the Trump Administration goes from incompetent to nefarious, and the only question is which impulse will prevail at any one time.

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