Jared Kushner reportedly said 'free markets will solve' the PPE shortage in March. Nurses are still paying for that approach.

Jared KushnerBrendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty Images
  • New reporting on a March 21 meeting in the White House Situation Room quotes Jared Kushner as saying it was "not the role of government" to solve the PPE shortage and prevent states from outbidding each other, according to Vanity Fair.
  • "The federal government is not going to lead this response," Kushner said, according to Vanity Fair. "It's up to the states to figure out what they want to do."
  • "Free markets will solve this. That is not the role of government."
  • A PPE shortage persists today, with one survey finding 58% of nurses in Florida, Kansas, Missouri and Nevada saying they had to reuse N95 masks for five days or more by the beginning of September.
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Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, made comments at a March 21 meeting in the Situation Room so egregious that those present leaked them to Vanity Fair in a new report.

Kushner was speaking to a group of business people in realms like Silicon Valley and venture capital to hash out how personal protective equipment would get to hospitals battling COVID-19.

The private sector attendees were looking to convince Kushner and his well-documented "shadow coronavirus task force" to use the Defense Production Act to compel companies to produce PPE at scale to overcome the shortage facing the country at that point — a shortage that has persisted through the summer.
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Kushner "was quick to strike a confrontational tone" at the meeting, according to those who recounted it to Vanity Fair for the first time, stunning those across the table who were expecting a sweeping national plan.

"The federal government is not going to lead this response," Kushner said, according to Vanity Fair. "It's up to the states to figure out what they want to do."

When someone else tried to explain to Kushner that under the situation at the time, states were outbidding each other and driving up the price of PPE, the 39-year-old with just a couple years of government experience brushed it aside.
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"Free markets will solve this," Kushner said. "That is not the role of government."

By that point in March, there were just over 19,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and around 260 recorded deaths. Today, the nation is nearing 200,000 deaths, with the Johns Hopkins University tally sitting at more than 198,000 as of Friday afternoon.
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Kushner's comments fit the Trump administration's laissez-faire approach to the pandemic and are not ground breaking on that front, but they do reveal that as a key decision maker, Kushner stymied any sort of a national response on something as basic as ensuring enough PPE was manufactured and distributed to America's health care systems, according to the meeting attendees quoted by Vanity Fair.

"We were flabbergasted," one of those who heard Kushner's comments at the meeting told Vanity Fair. "I basically had an out-of-body experience: Where am I, and what happened to America?"

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany denied the report in a statement to the magazine.
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"This story is another inaccurate and disgusting partisan hit job. President Trump has consistently put the health of all Americans first."

Kushner would go on to proclaim the US would be "really rocking again by July."

July came and went.
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The virus has continued to spread, and more Americans have died from COVID-19 than did in World War I.

And still, nurses have been reusing the same masks, with 58% in one survey on nurses in Florida, Kansas, Missouri and Nevada reporting that they had to reuse N95 masks for five days or more by the beginning of September.

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